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“We'll go back!”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
new york city
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“We'll go back!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 January 2009

Colin and Roberto were great hosts. They've done a beautiful job designing and running the place. It's quiet, set right on the beach, about 1/2 hour walk along the beach to Puerto Viejo, which is a funky, surfer town. (It's a black sand beach, btw.). We chose the place on the recommendation of a cab driver in San Jose on a previous visit and because we wanted to see the Caribbean side of CR. We actually liked it better than the Pacific because it is less developed, much less so than Manuel Antonio. We had the best room (#1), which has a great porch right on the ocean side.
We are a gay couple and rather expected there would be more gay guests, but it is very much a mixed, friendly place. Most of the guests were young, straight couples and there were some families with older children. We made friends with everyone.
The hotel does a great job of arranging excursions. We enjoyed everything they set up. They care about what they recommend.
This is not a place for someone expecting 4-star accomodations, but they don't pretend to be so. It's a very modern, clean but simple hotel. Very relaxing and friendly. Not a party scene.

  • Liked — Quiet, well-designed, on the beach
  • Disliked — They are still building a pool...but then, the ocean is right there! In the room, you do need to be considerate about noise , since the structure is quite open. That was the case in the other place we stayed as well.
  • Stayed December 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank nycger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
120 reviews
61 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 December 2008

Here goes. All of you out there reading these reviews must be thinking: can this place really be true? Can it live up to the all of the talk about "paradise?" Yes. Yes it can.

In San Jose and La Fortuna, other hotels and people asked where we were headed, and we said, "Arenal and Puerto Viejo" -- to which we heard comments like "Puerto Viejo? Not a good time to visit........why don't you go to the Pacific side?....record rainfall......etc." We were both quite concerned, but decided to try to make the drive after a.) reading the reviews b.) knowing we had made a reservation!

First of all, we started out with a little snag impacting our reservation (lost video camera on a tour in La Fortuna) and our arrival was delayed one day. I called the hotel and was told by one of the hotel's owners that they wouldn't charge me for that night. They were under no real obligation to do that, but they did it anyways. First good sign.

We made the long drive from La Fortuna to Puerto Viejo. Important point: if you're making this drive, allow PLENTY of time and TRY to make this drive in daylight: it requires a lot of concentration avoiding the car-sized potholes!

We arrived at the hotel (after about 6 hour drive) and headed straight to the bar. The bartender--who I hope you meet--mixed me up a strong margarita. I made note that the margarita was made with fresh juices--I am the only person I know who takes the time to do that! #2 good sign. Roberto came up and introduced himself and invited us to eat dinner there.

The clientele were all sitting having dinner peacefully, enjoying the 75 degree air and Carribean breezes. I knew this place was chill.

I told the bartender that I was a surfer and I came to Puerto Viejo looking for surf, but said the only problem was that I needed to rent a board and find out where the "good waves" were. He, Franklin, told me that he was headed out at 7 AM and said he had an extra board and would take me out first thing the in the morning.. Now where in the heck in the United States would that happen? Franklin and I went on to surf Playa Cocles the day after that -- where we surfed in the 83 degree water and talked about life, surfing, and love -- all in Spanish! Pura Vida friends, Pura Vida.

The rest of the three nights were three just blissful days of absolute fun and friendship. (Yes, if you're a light sleeper--the neighbor's rooster might wake you up in the morning. If so, ask for the "Frog Room" --very quiet.) Some highlights:

The food here is off the chain (that means good). I know there are some good restaurants in town (from what I hear): but for $10 + tax you get a stellar, healthy, well-balanced, delicious, home-cooked meal cooked by wonderful women. No seriously, I have been home for one week, and every night I think about the food. The presentation of the food is beautiful. The salad bar -- is diverse and fresh, the main course is soooo good (we had Baked Chicken one night, curry chicken the next, Carribean beaf the next--all with great sides --mashed potatoes, grilled veggies, rice, etc.) I believe the ladies here start early -- like 4 o'clock to prepare the food. Seriously, there is so much love prepared in the food--it's amazing. And the desserts-ooooh the desserts. From ice cream, to baked apples (w/ liqeur on top), to home made rice pudding!!! Wow! I've never been to a hotel that serves up home-cooked-type meals.

And I didn't even mention how delicious the breakfasts are (included in price of room). Peach pancakes I love you!!

The people here are SO SO SO nice. The epitomize the spirit of "Pura Vida." Even the groundskeepers are smiling and friendly! (Everyone helped me to practice my Spanish--including the guard!) The cooks bring the food out with such genuine happiness--it sounds crazy, but I will never forget the people at this hotel and their genuine kindness to make the client happy. Customer service really is #1. I wish them all the best in happiness and health. Tip well, please!!!

Everything about the construction of the hotel is like a dream. It screams creativity and sufficiency. From the lighting, to the Adirondack chairs, to the killer bar, to the the beautiful wood, to the open-air natured showers, to the lamps in the rooms (I could go on and on)--everything was designed to be out of a dream. I think that's Roberto and Colin.

Yeah, the beds aren't Sealy Posturepedic, but friends, if you need that, head to the 4 Seasons....(at a rate of about 6x per night). P.S. -- Use the mosquito nets and mosquito spray--definitely lots of mosquitos here, especially with the rain.

I could write a tome on this place, but suffice it to say: memories of the warm Carribean breezes blowing through the air while you lie in your hammock listening to the sound of the crashing waves with a loved one (or even by yourself!) to drinking strong Costa Rican coffee on the totally isolated black-sand beach watching a breathtaking Carribean sunrise will stay with you long after you leave this incredibly well-managed hotel. Costa Rica's "motto" is "Pura Vida" -- but I think Banana Azul's motto is even better, and something I hope you will get the chance to experience if you're here: "The Best Things In Life Are Not Things"

Thanks Roberto and Colin and staff for a great stay. We wish you the best life has to offer.

John and Shannon , CA, USA

  • Liked — The Staff
  • Disliked — Rooster!
  • Stayed December 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank voodoo-d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
kurt000111
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 December 2008

We arrived at night after a stressful day of travelling and driving....at 10 PM Franklin the bartender had a drink prepared in notime, and although the kitchen was closed, a meal was prepared and served to us.....GOOD START !!! We were taken to our room in the Hotel (which is 2-3 years old) and we were pleasantly surprised to find a large room, 2 stories high with skylights and all necessary furnishings,,,,also a huge deck overlooking the Ocean....We're thinking "this is going to be nice".

Banana Azul is the Love Boat, without the Boat !....perfect in every way, with all amenities necessary in the jungle available to you....Devon and Roberto are superb hosts, Franklin is the ultimate bartender, Jaqui runs a tight ship in the office, and Rick keeps the grounds magnificent.

The location requires that you find things to do.....the hotel has many tours to take, we went out on our own to the Cahuita National Forest, Bocas del Toro in Panama, and the Sloth sanctuary (don't miss the sloth sanctuary !!!)

Not only is this hotel run in an efficient manner and focused on the guest's enjoyment, it is priced incredibly.....Breakfast was included every day, a varied full breakfast that was delicious each morning.....we chose to have 3 lunches and 3 dinners at additional cost, and of course wine and beer.....our total bill for 6 nights came to $458.00 !!!

Don't stay anywhere else.....but be sure to get specific directions, it's "off the beaten path" so to speak. And if you're worried about sleeping late and missing the sunrise on the beach.....don't worry, the Rooster will wake you up !!!

Take my advice, don't stay anywhere else, this is a real good place

  • Liked — Cleanliness and large size of rooms
  • Disliked — we liked everything
  • Stayed December 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank kurt000111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Missouri
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 December 2008

I can't say enough good things about the hotel. It was basically an oasis away from town. The grounds were very well manicured with daily visits from skilled lawn maintenance crews.

Also, nightly security was there to help safeguard against any issues. The beach was literally 20 meters from the back of the hotel and the food was EXCELLENT. Overall, one of the best places I have stayed.

As other posters have mentioned, the roosters made me nearly go willy wonka nuts, but overall, i coped...

Stayed November 2008
Helpful?
Thank lowcalspam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
28 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 November 2008

I hope they will post this review - I will not make it to my previously reserved holiday at the Banana Azul due to circumstances beyond my control.

But I feel I must compliment the amazing and personal customer service I received not only during the booking and planning phase but also after letting Nina know that I will not be able to make it.

Nina worked with me for days to set up an excursion schedule and itinerary that was perfect, and when I had to cancel, I took the time to call her personally to apologize. She has been lovely and responsive, and I promise...I WILL MAKE IT THERE as soon as I can.

I cannot recommend Banana Azul highly enough. They have truly the most incredible customer service skills I have ever encountered.

Stayed February 2008
Helpful?
Thank raleightrvlr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sydney
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 November 2008

My boyfriend and I recently stayed at Banana Azul for 3 nights. We would loved to have extended but didn't have time as we were just passing through.

I could not recommend Banana Azul more highly. It is a lovely relaxed place to chill out. The rooms are simple (great value for the price), very comfortable & clean, and there is great pride taken in the place.

The best part are the owners Colin & Roberto and their staff - especially Nina who helped book all our activities and onward travel in Costa Rica. They are so helpful, friendly and you really feel like you are staying with friends. Even their gorgeous dogs (especially Gigi) seem to welcome you with a wag of their tail and smile each morning.

From the offer of a welcome drink in the bar on arrival, to the free towels you can take with you when you head off on a days excursion, it is so lovely to stay somewhere where you don't feel nickel and dimed at every turn.

The breakfasts were lovely, and the dinners very enjoyable. Even though we left very early the day of our departure before the breakfast serving time, when we checked out Roberto insisted we have breakfast before we leave - a simple gesture but very thoughtful.

Banana Azul is great value and a wonderful experience. I could not recommend it more highly.

  • Liked — everything was great
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed October 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank katenicholes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
snohomish, wa
Level Contributor
11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 November 2008

We stayed 3 nights here in October in the dolphin room. A great place to stay. They room was very large and the deck was my husbands favorite place to hang in the evenings with a beer (relaxing in the hammock). The staff was wonderful and the food was great. Roberto and Colin are very nice. Roberto had a special birthday pancakes made for me and sang me happy birthday with some of the staff. It brought tears to my eyes... it was so sweet. The dinner is so great and reasonable that you really do not want to go into town to eat.

  • Stayed October 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank lakebozgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member 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 Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Romantic 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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