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“If heaven is anything less then Banana Azul, I will be very dissapointed”
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 2 January 2010

Heaven. Pure, true heaven.
Everything about this place met or exceeded my expectations. The people, the room, the surrounding area all charming and beautiful.

Making the Reservation and checking in:
I contacted the hotel back in Feb about staying over the holidays. My query was responded to by David and he is pretty much who I dealt with when it came to the room reservation. He is wonderfully sweet and was the first person we met upon check in. He showed us to our room and then showed us around the property. He, and every else at the font desk were always available and happy to help if you needed anything or had a question.
It's very nice going to a place where it is obvious that everyone loves their jobs and that is very evident here.

Our Room:
We stayed in the Red Frog room and I am very happy about our selection. The bathroom of course as the beautiful Red Frog mosaic which the room gets it's name from. It was spacious and had a very nice ceiling fan that really came in handy. The room is located in a building separate from the main hotel but still on Banana Azul property which is something we actually liked about it. We also had a large private porch which we spent a lot of time of. You can also get a good wi-fi signal on the porch if you bring a computer.

The Food:
We ate the majority of our meals at the hotel. Food in this part of CR is very expensive and the prices at the hotel where better then eating in town. Plus the amount of food that they gave you was more then enough. Breakfast was of course included in the room rate. It was always delicious and fresh. A standard lunch menu was available every day with nachos, sandwiches, burgers etc. with tax lunch was about $7.50 per person. Dinner always had a meat or vegetarian option and came with a salad and dessert. With tax it was about $11.50 per person.
We never had a bad meal there. It also nice that they would just charge your room so you didn't have to carry any cash.
Of course Franklin's Mojito's are AMAZING!! Best I have ever tasted.

The main hotel:
The main hotel building is open and airy. Always clean with plenty of comfortable chairs. The plunge pool and main pool are super refreshing on those hot days. There are always hammocks up by the beach which are great for relaxing. A stack of fresh, clean beach towels are always available. As I said before everyone behind the desk was very kind and helpful.

Gecko Trail Adventures:
If you want to plan excursions or tours while you are in CR this is the place to go. I worked with Maythe and have nothing but wonderful things to say about her. I never waited long for a response and she was always very sweet with me and all of my questions. They set every up for us from the hotel we stayed at when we first flew into San Jose, the Interbus to get to/from Banana Azul and all of of our tours and activities. The prices were very reasonable and everyone there knew a lot about the area. They were always available to answer questions about anything you can think of.

Before I go I would like to address some of the things people have said in other reviews that were not so great about the hotel:
* The people who work there love what they do and it shows.
* The towels that we had in our room are nicer then the ones I have at my house. Everyday we were brought clean fresh ones and always had more then enough to go around
* Who needs a jacuzzi when it's 90-something degrees outside? The plunge pool came in handy more then once when I needed to cool down after a long hike.
* For the price we paid for the room the bed was right on par. You are not checking into a Westin or Sheraton you are checking into a small, locally owned hotel in a jungle.
If you are looking for upgraded amenities, fine linens and someone to wait on you hand and foot then this may not be the place for you.
But, if you are looking for a place that is friendly, well cared for and very reasonably priced surrounded by stunning views and clean, soft sand beach then you'll be in heaven.

To Colin, Roberto, David, Maythe and everyone at Banana Azul and Gecko:
Words cannot describe how blessed we feel to have been guests at your hotel. Your hospitality went above and beyond and we wish nothing but the best for all you in the future. Thank you for making our trip and our first Christmas in the Caribbean something we will never forget.
Thank you!

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Deepsilvr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 28 December 2009

We arrived in Puerto Viejo from Cahuita and were mildly disappointed with the appearance of the town, compared to Cahuita it was dirty and clad with bums. We got in a taxi from the bus station and for 1500 colones were driven about a mile to Banana Azul. The location is perfect and right on one of the nicest parts of the black sand beach; it was just far enough down from bustling Puerto Viejo (a 15 minute walk). Traveling as a party of 4, they gave us the sloth cabinas which sit up in the trees adjacent to the office. The views were spectacular, we were so amazed the instant we entered our rooms. Everything was clean and well kept. The sloth cabinas have 2 separate rooms (that are billed separately), a shared kitchen, dining, and dual living areas. All were well stocked. The bedrooms have 2 fans each, mosquito nets, private baths, ample storage space and safes. The kitchen had a 2 burner stove top, a refrigerator, pots, pans, utensils, glassware, serving plates, etc., even basic cooking items like oil, salt, pepper, a few different seasonings, non-stick spray, tuna, etc. The dining area is a bar that faces out the balcony. The living areas have chairs, benches on the balcony and a hammock each... all face out to the beautiful garden and ocean views. The pool was amazing, the food was terrific, they set you up with any tour you could possibly imagine and they bill everything to your room so you can just pay your entire itemized tab when you leave. We stayed for 3 nights and 4 days and then headed down to Panama. By far one of the nicest hotels we stayed in on our Carribean trip and actually, have ever stayed in even in the States. Good for families, couples, groups, just about anyone.

The only thing we didn't like was the bamboo bed frames in our rooms. While the decorative part of it was really neat, it creaked and cracked with every single move and shift we made which did not make for a very good nights sleep. By the second and third night we got a little more used to it. The mattress however, was comfortable.

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled with friends
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1  Thank LindseyLou56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 December 2009

We had a great time...exactly what we were looking for!

My boyfriend and I stayed at Casa Las Brisas during the first 3 nights of our stay in Puerto Viejo, Banana Azul was closed for refurbishment...the rest of our holidays we stayed at Banana Azul.
What more can I say or add to the other guest's great feedbacks and comments of Banana Azul......comfortable clean rooms, nice terasse with a calm & soft ocean breeze, private hammocks on each terasse & also some on the beach for our afternoon naps, fresh homemade breakfasts, very good dinner,...
It's not too big, and not too small, very friendly & helpful staff.
We had a fabulous time, so if you are looking for a calm 'n cozy place to spend your holidays, we highly recommand Banana Azul for your stay if you go to Puerto Viejo.

..."The Best Things in Life are not Things", but one thing for sure Banana Azul is the best! :o)

Enjoy this little clip I made of our stay in December '09...

http://video.yahoo.com/watch/6630210/17217616

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Shalimar3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 December 2009

This place is beautiful no doubt. It is quite new and is kept very clean. The decor was amazing, the staff was great and the bartender, Franklin, was one of the best ever. I decided to stay here because of this site, but I wish I had read more about it. I gave it a 4 star rating because I enjoyed my stay overall. I just want to make sure everyone reading this knows everything about it.

They put in a jacuzzi and pool recently but the jacuzzi isn't heated so nobody uses it. The bed we had was the worst bed I think I have ever slept on. We were in the Dolphin Suite. Our neighbor told me his was really bad too. The water pressure there was almost nothing so if anyone was showering while you were or a toilet flushed then the water almost disappeared. (This might not be Banana Azul's fault but I am just telling you what I dealt with.) The towels seemed like they were bought at a yard sale being all different colors and sizes and quality. The chairs in the main area looked nice but were not very comfortable.

What saves this place though is the location, the decor, the food and the service. If it wasn't for those things I think I would have left after 1 night. Now I wasn't looking for the nicest place in the world but most of what I listed above are simple fixes outside of the jacuzzi. But come on who builds a jacuzzi without the ability to heat it?!?!

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank jcwilliams35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
colinsito, Owner at Hotel Banana Azul, responded to this reviewResponded 17 December 2009

Dear Mr Williams. I am sorry we did not live up to your expectations here at the Banana Azul. Your criticism and comments are valid, but I would like to enlighten you (and potential future guests) about a few of the reasons why things are the way they are.

Yes, the "Jacuzzi" is not heated. It is actually never was meant to be a jacuzzi. We do not promote it that way as we knew that comes with implication that it is heated. We call it our "swirl pool". You might have recalled that the water from the swirl pool is circulated with the pool. Given that the temperatures average about 90 degrees here (with humidity). It never dawned on us that anyone would want more heat. Your observation of no-one using it is different then ours. The whole pool feature which is 5 months old has been very well received. We will continue listening to customers to see if our assumption of what we thought people would want is correct.

In regards to your bed and towels. They are medium quality standard hotel issue here for Costa Rica. We would love to do better but according to our numbers, our rates don't support high end appointments. Our vision here was never to be "high end" or luxury. it was to provide a good value for the average working person to afford a tropical vacation on the beach. Most of the feedback that we get implies that we are succeeding.

The water pressure... Yes, it is low and you are not the first to bring this to our attention. Believe me.. having low water pressure was intentional. During your stay, you might have noticed we are directly on the beach. While most people like that fact - building a hotel in a undeveloped area with no sewer systems can be very tricky as the water table is 1-2 feet below the ground (depending on time of year). Even though we have raised the property we have to be very careful about how much water we put into our septic fields. In addition to our low-flush toilets, we have installed "reducers" on water pipes to restrict the flow in an effort to reduce what goes into the fields. Thankfully for everybody, it is working.

Thanks for noting that we were "not excellent". I would never want to profess we were and I would fear people coming to stay here would come with that expectation. I have given up in life and more so after living in a developing country in trying to achieve excellence. Our motto here is "We strive for progress, not perfection".

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Reviewed 13 December 2009

My husband and I stayed here for our 20th anniversary. It was relaxing and refreshing. The staff, service, and food was outstanding. The tour connections were made with the most professional outfitters. The only time things didn't go perfectly was when we arranged our own adventures. Our room was a bit on the small side and the bed could have used a better mattress, but these downs were far outweighed by the ups.

Stayed: May 2009, travelled as a couple
1  Thank nidomio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 December 2009

Two couples, senior citizens, joined the mix of nice customers staying at the worlds best deal, Banana Azul, for almost a week. We were delighted with management, staff, accomodations, service, food, drinks, atmosphere, VALUE, place, location, beach, town, and everything else. The hotel isn't for everyone: I had to cold shave, and missed room service (though only when we wanted to have drinks on our large veranda at cocktail time). The nice rooms are a bit hot during the day, but cool off nicely at night (with the help of an electric fan). Don't expect shampoo and handcream, or those types of amenities, but for the price you can afford to buy everything needed at the supermercado. We also missed the Limon airport (closed - perhaps to open again in January) because getting there and back by other than air is a hastle. The place was short a few lounge chairs for sun sitting at the beach or by the pool, but they will figure that out as they go along.

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank BFreeLincolnshire_IL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 November 2009

It's only been a week, and I miss Banana Azul already.

I arrived at Banana Azul on a rainy Sunday night, after a long journey. I was amazed when I first saw the grounds. I was greeted by beautiful landscaping, smiling faces, and friendly dogs running around. I stayed in the Ocean Room #2, the second room from the ocean. Every night, I kept my french doors open so I would wake up to the waves, wild animals, and the smell of breakfast being cooked downstairs. The breakfast is very tasty, and it seemed like it was something new and fresh everyday. Yum! And I miss the delicious coffee that was ready around 5:30 every morning. I would grab my cup of coffee and either walk out to the beach, or relax in one of their many hammocks.

I loved the fact that Banana Azul is a small hotel; I received a very personal experience. Not only did I meet fellow travelers, but I also was pleased to meet Roberto and Colin. They are fantastic and their attention to detail is impeccable. Being a solo traveler, safety was also important to me. I never had any issues with anyone at the hotel or the staff. Everyone had kind smiles, and I felt very comfortable.

I could go on and on about how wonderful and magical this hotel is. I would recommend Banana Azul for anyone visiting Costa Rica or making their way through. I have already talked friends into visiting and I also plan on going back. Pura Vida!

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled solo
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2  Thank SLeigh83
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

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 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range: £49 - £125 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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