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“Wonderful Place, Outstanding Stay!”

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Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais
Ranked #2 of 8 Hotels in Mal Pais
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 2 September 2014

There is not enough one can say about Casa Chameleon and those that help make this place amazing. The villas are outstanding and the staff is more than helpful and experienced. Of course we our the type of people who love to venture beyond our hotel, exploring the local town and most importantly local food, but each meal, visit, and venture at Casa Chameleon was incredible. In particular, we loved eating at the Chef's table, learning how he cooks his meals of the days and tasting his incredible foods. It was truly the highlight of our visit. Thank you to everyone at Casa Chameleon for making this trip one of greatest experiences in Costa Rica!

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank ViajanteGlobal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CasaChameleon, Owner's Rep at Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais, responded to this reviewResponded 20 October 2014

Hi, thank you for sharing your thoughts about Casa Chameleon!. It really means a lot to us that you found our place to be "one of the greatest experiences in Costa Rica"! Our entire staff works very hard to make sure our guests have the best time possible while at Casa Chameleon, so your feedback is very important to us. We hope that you come back to visit soon!! Pura Vida

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183 - 189 of 410 reviews

Reviewed 1 September 2014

My husband and I stayed at Casa Chameleon for 6 nights in mid August for our honeymoon and it was absolutely magical. It was the best vacation we have ever had by far. We stayed in the villa Pochote and it was incredible! The room was beautifully furnished and very clean surrounded by the jungle with a view of the ocean. It was really incredible. Multiple times we had howler monkeys climbing in the trees right outside of our room and you can hear them howling every morning and evening. It was such an awesome experience. If you are looking into coming here just do it! You will not regret it. The staff is spectacular and very accomodating, they make you feel like part of their family. Erika is one of the girls that works in the front desk and was super nice and did whatever she could to make our stay as amazing as possible. Nothing we asked for was a problem, they literally had a solution for everything. Andrea is one of the servers there and we absolutely loved her. She is the nicest person and makes really good drinks! She made us feel so welcome and we really got into the whole culture of Costa Rica, we felt right at home. It is hard to find the kind of customer service we recieved at Casa Chameleon at home in the states. They were truly exceptional. Also, the food was the best food I've ever eaten in my life. Prablo is an amazing chef. We tried every single thing he served us no matter what it was because we soon realized that no matter what he put in front of us we would love it. We ate eel and ate every bit of it!! We paid extra to have the half board meals the entire time we were there and it was worth it! We ate like royalty. The adventure package came with ATV rental and that was honestly one of the best parts of our trip! We could drive wherever we wanted and quickly learned our way around and could explore the country! It was so much fun!Just to give a heads up to further travelers, there are lots of steps on the property so you need to prepare to get a leg workout but it did not hinder the experience at all, eventually you get used to it. Also it is pretty humid outside, but surprisingly we did not have too many issues with mosquitos but you will sweat outside. The hotel has free wi-fi in the rooms and in the common areas. You will be charged for every bottle of water you drink. They do have running water but it is preffered to drink bottled water. They do have the same outlets that we have in the US. Many of the roads in the area are not paved and have lots of pot holes so be ready for a bumpy ride, but that's what makes the ATV so fun! My husband and I are very adventurous, outdoorsy people and we had tons of fun! There are so many exciting and fun things to do in the area. We are hoping to come back again in the future because we know it will not dissapoint and we truly had a fairytale, dream of a honeymoon. We fell in love with Costa Rica and did not want to leave!

  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank Cheryl R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CasaChameleon, Owner's Rep at Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais, responded to this reviewResponded 3 November 2014

Hola Cheryl! Thanks for your wonderful review! We are glad that you had an amazing honeymoon at Casa Chameleon. We have passed on your praise to Erika, Andrea and Pabro, they are very grateful for your kind words. Our staff works hard to please our guests, so your feedback means a lot to them! We hope to see you back at Casa Chameleon soon!
Pura Vida :)

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Reviewed 30 August 2014

Room: we stayed in Villa Estrella, which was amazing! This is certainly the most private Villa. We felt as though we had our our piece of the rainforest. The outdoor space was incredible! If you are wary of bugs, do note that there were various bugs in our room at all times. Also worth mentioning that you need to put toilet paper in a waste basket (completely understandable, but still feels a little weird because the rest of the room is so fantastic)

Restaurant Staff: The team in the restaurant are all amazing! Lilly was so warm and welcoming, and really went out of her way to look after us. She was even patient enough to allow us to practice our Spanish in our daily interactions. Andrea always had a smile and was in good spirits every time we encountered her. Mikol, one of the chefs, was kind enough to invite us to watch him lovingly prepare his delicious Gallo y Pinto. He patiently answered all of our questions. Will, one of the other chefs, was very professional and you could tell he took great pride in presenting his creations to us nightly. He was never too busy to come to our table and tell us about each delicious course he had meticulously prepared.

Front desk staff: Overall, we were underwhelmed. While there are only 6 couples when the property is at maximum occupancy, we found that they did not seem to know what was included in the Romance package (e.g. upon arrival we were asked if our transfer was included, we had to ask for the bottle of champagne and even at that they forgot to tell the restaurant staff to send it down, etc.). Also, we felt that the little things that make a 5 star property were absent. We had to find them to ask for details (e.g. pick up times) of excursions that they had arranged for us. Nothing from this team was proactive, which is really what distinguishes the best resorts from the beautiful ones. When we asked for something, it was done with a smile (e.g switching an excursion date) but nothing above and beyond.

Excursions: we had an amazing surf lesson with Alex from the Mal Pais Surf School. However, our ziplining excursion was with a company that seemed almost mechanical in their interactions with our group. The couples massage was excellent! We really enjoyed having this in our room on our beautiful patio.

Other comments: Although a bottle of wine was included with dinner, literally every night there was a soft attempt at an up-sell to a more expensive bottle (you can have this one, but the chef recommends this one). Our gut says that this is a management decision and not the restaurant staff acting on their own. Really, it would be better to just charge a few extra dollars at the beginning and have the wines properly paired. That said when you break down the costs, even spending an extra $30/night on the wine, you are getting: an amazing view, great food, incredibly friendly staff, one of the best massages (at least by my standards), and a couple of excursions for what would be considered an incredibly low price compared to what you would spend in for the same in most places.

Definitely a 4 star, but needs some work if they want to compete with the best properties.

Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Lorne_Alexandra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CasaChameleon, Owner's Rep at Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais, responded to this reviewResponded 4 November 2014

Hola Alexandra.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us. We strive to make our hotel the best it can be and your feedback is a big part of what helps us get better. We have addressed your comments with our front desk, and are glad that you enjoyed your overall stay at Casa Chameleon and that you found it to be a "great value for the money". Our restaurant staff thanks you for the praise. We hope to see you again in our little piece of paradise!
Pura Vida!

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Reviewed 26 July 2014

We stayed in the Villa Ultra for our 5 day trip to Mal Pais to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. It's true there are many steps up and down a steep hill (134 to be exact) to get to the room but it is well worth it and we didn't want to leave anyway. The view is picturesque and waking up to the birds and monkeys is so relaxing.

Erica and the staff are amazing. They set us up with all our excursions and set up a rental car for us (I will warn you the roads are not managed well but maneuverable). Even though there are no street signs or street names the people in CR are so friendly we never got lost.

It is a bit pricy but anything we wanted Erica and her staff made possible which made our trip so much more relaxing and fun. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
Thank Leslie A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 July 2014

We thoroughly enjoyed our stayed here except for all the steps to get to our fabulous room. We arrived during the night along with a hard rain. We were met out front by the security guard and one of the restaurant servers. Umbrellas were given to us and we headed down MANY stairs in the poring rain, very little light, and carrying our small bags. The unfortunate security guy had to carry our larger bags. The steps were slippery and I felt very unsafe on them especially without any handrails. It rained a lot of our time there so we had this problem often.

The unsafe, long climb was our ONLY problem, though. The place is beautiful and has fantastic ocean views from up the hillside. Our room was the Estrella and it was one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever stayed in. There is a living room, bedroom, and a large bathroom. The patio has sitting areas and a large infinity plunge pool. Fortunately you can have your breakfast and dinner delivered to your room (for a fee) which we took advantage of when it was raining.

The BEST thing about this hotel is Chef Pabro Sanchez and his staff. He has created many delicious and creative dishes showcasing local cuisine. He cooked our dinners every night and for all the other guests. They only serve guests so it’s very intimate. The server explained each dish and answered any questions we had. When we had our dinner brought to our room, Pabro also came and described each dish which was such a special touch. On our last night we asked to be sat at the bar in the restaurant which looks into the kitchen and the staff gave us the best “show” of everything being cooked along with a lot of history and stories about the food. That ended up being one of my favorite things we did in Costa Rica!

I would like to stay here again but next time I will forgo the “best” room in the hotel to one much closer to the lobby, bar, restaurant.

Room Tip: Closer to the lobby is best unless you don't mind climbing many steps.
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  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Linda R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 July 2014

My partner and I just returned from a week in Mal Pais and stayed at Casa Chameleon. We wanted a romantic getaway that included a plunge pool and after careful research and debating many locations, we stumbled upon Casa Chameleon. We booked the romance package and now that we have returned, agree that although pricey, was worth it. While the villas, grounds and restaurant were all fantastic, there are still some improvements that Casa Chameleon can make to ensure that their guests continue to come back year over year. We hope that others will take our comments into consideration to enhance your own experience when you visit this property.

Check-in: After arriving at Tambor airport and an hour taxi ride later, we were greeted by Erika (hotel manager) at the front of the property. Instead of welcoming us, she immediately reminded us that we were early and that check-in was not until 2 PM. She was worried that we would get bored and we assured her that we had plenty of ideas of things to do to pass the time (we arrived at 10 AM). Erika takes you to a pavilion on the property where you get a warm towel and a cool drink with aloe in it and quickly goes through the breakdown. As I previously mentioned, we had booked the romance package and had spent months emailing back and forth with the property to confirm details (activities, times for dinner, dinner choices, etc.) so we were surprised that Erika was not more familiar with our details and asked us to reconfirm a lot of the information that we had provided by email over the course of the weeks leading up to our trip. She failed to give us a map of Mal Pais, additional details on our activities (including that we actually needed to drive and that the hotel had not arranged transportation) or any other information about the town that you would expect a manager to know off hand. Yes, we probably should have asked more questions but when you pay thousands of dollars for a vacation, you do expect a certain level of service. Just before 2 PM, Erika found us by the pool and brought us down to our room.

Hotel Managers: Erika and Juan are the hotel managers on-site. Erika works in the morning and Juan works in the afternoon. Perhaps it was an off week for them (as we read previously how amazing the staff was) but we found both of them to be standoffish and not overly friendly. We had booked the zip lining tour for Tuesday at 1 PM. Since this was included in our package, we were under the impression that we would be picked up at the hotel at 1 PM and escorted to Montezuma. At check-in, no directions or maps were provided. Tuesday, we are waiting outside of the hotel when Erika comes out and tells us that were not only supposed to drive ourselves but that we were supposed to arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of the zip lining. These are details that should have been provided at check-in. We were obviously frustrated but did not find that Erika took any ownership in the mistake that was made. We had to re-book for the next day and it was at this time that a map and directions were provided. During check out with Juan, after questioning some charges on our bill, he seemed very annoyed and in a rush to get us out of his office. Also, they did not provide an itemized bill so the charges that were on top of what we pre-paid were a bit of a mystery. Water at dinner, for example, is an extra charge and we knew this but we would have liked to see the line items for each of the charges (especially considering they make you sign a receipt at each meal). At the end of the day, we let him run our credit card for the amount on the bill, even though we were not sure if that was the correct amount.

Grounds: As soon as you pull up, it's clear that the grounds are well maintained and taken care of. Lush gardens of trees and flowers await you. The entire property is just beautiful and we saw staff daily landscaping to make the property look its best. We were very pleased with how secluded we were from the main town but how we still felt that we were in a remote setting all on our own.

Villa: We stayed in villa Pochote and it was exactly like the pictures. Big, airy, nice finishes. The doors all open out onto the private patio and plunge pool. The pool was as expected, refreshing and with a beautiful view of the ocean in the distance. The outdoor shower was nice as well but not as secluded as we hoped. We noticed that the villa above us could see down onto the shower and as well as those coming down the path that knew where to look. Overall, besides some ants and a number of bugs that flew into the villa during the day while the doors were open, the villa was everything we were hoping for.

Food: The food selections and staff at the restaurant were probably the highlight of the trip. Andrea, the waitress at most dinners, is extremely kind and attentive. She made us feel special each night and always was on top of our reservations, order and wine preferences. We definitely enjoyed getting to know her during our 5 nights. Pablo, the executive chef, was imaginative and provided amazing dinners. 2 nights he was out sick, and the sous chef Will, jumped in and provided equally delicious meals. Some of our favorites included fresh white fish in a Dashi broth, seared tuna, a traditional Japanese sushi box and amazing jumbo shrimp with a coconut sauce. Breakfast was also amazing each morning and we enjoyed having options to choose from. Our favorite, by far, was the gallo pinto. We have already purchased a bottle of Salsa Lizano to try to make our own at home. Definitely eat at the restaurant as much as possible (especially if you have booked a package that includes your meals).

Activities: We mainly wanted to relax on this trip and to enjoy the beach and our private plunge pool. We did go to Montezuma (about 30 minutes by car) and thought it was a bigger town that Mal Pais with many restaurants and shopping opportunities. The zip lining tour was also close to here so we recommend heading to Montezuma in the morning to explore, shop and eat before the tour. After zip lining, we recommend hiking down (30 minutes) to the Montezuma waterfalls. There are three falls in all but you should hike to the bottom for the best views and swimming in the pools of the falls. We recommend a car or ATV if you want out of Mal Pais as the roads are quite primitive and the town of Mal Pais was a good 30 minute walk from the property. Casa Chameleon can arrange a massage in your room (we also loved this) and I would recommend it for anyone looking to relax. We did not like beach at the bottom of the hill from the property (Playa Carmen) but did enjoy the beaches in Santa Teresa (10 minute trip). Playa de Hermosa was our favorite (clean, big waves, refreshing and nice for swimming).

Tips: We had a package so a car and meals (breakfast and dinner) were included. However, we were on our own for lunch each day. We really liked the local bakery in town. This is ran by a family from Belgium and has sophisticated coffees, pastries and sandwiches. I recommend you try the croissant with spinach, goat cheese and poached eggs. The smoothies too were delicious - a must to help cool off from the humid weather. The main sports bar, is fun and often crowded. We were there during the World Cup and it was often packed during the games (which also made it a ton of fun to be there). Drinks were well priced and they had a full menu. We ate fish tacos and enjoyed them but also saw that they had some classic American fare (i.e. burgers) that others looked to be enjoying. We found having a car was an easy way to explore outside of the property and allowed us more opportunities to see more of the peninsula.

Weather: A lot of people warned us that the weather in June and July would be very wet. We actually only had 1 day of rain and found that most days it was sunny (through the afternoon) but that clouds did roll in around 3 PM every day. It was very warm with high humidity so we were more sweaty than we thought we would be. Since it is the start of the rainy season, the surroundings were green and lush. We definitely didn't mind the one day of rain (it also cooled down that evening) and would return in June/July again in the future.

Overall, we were very pleased with our stay. Compared to other properties in this part of Costa Rica, Casa Chameleon is definitely the best. The food, most of the staff and the well equipped villas made the trip feel special and luxurious. Costa Rica is a beautiful place and I am looking forward to exploring other parts in the future.

Room Tip: We enjoyed villa Pochote for the private pool, outdoor shower and secluded location!
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank travelingteacher14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 June 2014

Ah, Costa Rica! This past spring my sister and I vacationed in Santa Teresa, on the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. We’d heard so many wonderful things about the landscape, the animals – its natural beauty. It was all of that, and more. The ‘more’ being our luck in meeting the owner of Sapoa Adventures and also Executive Chef at the Hotel Casa Chameleon – Pabro Sanchez. Being ‘foodies’ ourselves, not only loving to cook but also appreciative of a well done dish or meal, we had the good fortune to meet Pabro as our hiking guide. He was amazingly knowledgeable about the flora and fauna, plus the animals and birds of Costa Rica. He was quite educated about the history and archeology of the area, as well the history of the people of Costa Rica. While hiking the Cabo Blanco National Park and in the midst of telling us about the dry tropical rain forest, he began to talk about his love of cooking indigenous foods. My sister and I had just done a cooking vacation in Arizona the previous month, and this piqued our interest. Pabro invited us to dine at Hotel Casa Chameleon in Mal Pais, where he is the Executive Chef, and so that very evening we did so. To say we were blown away is an understatement. We thought we had lucked out with such an intelligent and educated tour guide, but could he also be a great chef? We could tell from our hiking discussion just how passionate he was about cooking indigenous foods, but to see him in action preparing them at the Hotel Casa Chameleon’s outdoor restaurant was quite the treat. We were invited to sit near the bar area and were able to watch him cook firsthand. He answered all of our questions as he worked, explaining what he was doing as he prepared his savory dishes. We were presented with the most wonderful artistic gastronomic creations! We started with mussels (something I’d never had) in a fresh coconut soup of sorts, with a layering of fresh ingredients. I’m not sure all that was in it, but it was to die-for-delicious and innovatively presented. Our main dish was sea bass, and I believe a fresh melon risotto with green onion oil drizzled on top. We had something pumpkin for dessert, which was light and delicate. We walked away frankly being very pleasantly surprised at our find. Pabro doesn’t just use the most fresh ingredients (fish caught that day), but the combinations he creates are highly imaginative, with flavors that juxtaposition into the simply delicious. Luckily for my sister and me, we had planned a snorkeling day trip also and Pabro was our guide a second time! In the midst of snorkeling, he asked us if we wanted to fish, and we ended up catching four huge tuna! Who would cook them for us? That night we went back to the Hotel Casa Chameleon, and Pabro turned our tuna into 3 versions of Ceviche (all unique and mouthwatering), and our main entrée was our tuna prepared with crushed coffee beans, chili flakes, and pistachio nuts, topped with caramelized onions, served with fresh pumpkin, and drizzled with green onion oil. I’d go back to Costa Rica just to eat his food – seriously! It is that unique and delicious. I honestly don’t know all the nuance ingredients Pabro used in the delights we ate, but if dishes like pan seared sea bass, shrimp and fresh melon risotto, with green onion oil; wasabi crusted seared tuna, with caramelized basmati topped with spicy mango chutney; or spicy mussels and red snapper soup, in fresh coconut milk and julienne vegetables sound delectable to you too - head to Costa Rica and Hotel Casa Chameleon in Mal Pais. I know Pabro Sanchez would offer up the same personable hospitality, educated knowledge and history of his country, and delicious beyond what you could image, indigenous foods of Costa Rica. If Pabro Sanchez came to the US, and let’s say opened a restaurant in Chicago (my home town) – he’d have a 3 Star restaurant in a heartbeat!

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank ChristineReviews2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais

Address: Punta Barrigona | Province of Puntarenas, Mal Pais, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Mal Pais
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 8 Hotels in Mal Pais
Price Range: £252 - £519 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais 4*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Chosen as one of the "Best 101 Hotels in the World" by Conde Nast Publications' Tatler Travel Guide, Casa Chameleon hotel Mal Pais is a favorite with honeymooners and couples looking to relax and unwind in an enchanted adult only environment. Casa Chameleon is vacation as it should be: a warm welcome, rich privacy, authentic experiences, and endless adventure. Regardless of which Casa Chameleon Hotel you find yourself enjoying, you can count on handcrafted cultural experiences and endless adventure. At each Casa Chameleon property, it is our priority to help you slip seamlessly into the best of local tradition and cuisine-from cooking fresh-caught seafood side by side with our in-house chefs to paddling the coastline to sipping a nightcap in your private pool. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Casa Chameleon Mal Pais
Casa Chameleon Hotel Mal Pais Costa Rica

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