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“so great, we went back for our honeymoon!!”
Review of Tulemar Resort

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Tulemar Resort
Ranked #2 of 46 Hotels in Manuel Antonio
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 20 May 2008

My husband and I got engaged at Buena Vista Villas and Casas April of 2007. There was no question as to where we were going to spend our Honeymoon a year later.... it was better than ever the second time around! The tropical setting and culture embraced our entire wedding party as we spent a week in the luxurious casas! There was something for everyone; body surfing and wake boarding for my adventurous husband and groomsmen, the beach and pools for my girls, not to mention the relaxing in-room massages my maid of honor and I had. As an international traveler, I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to communicate with the locals in our days spent zip-lining and horseback riding through the jungle! When my husband and I wanted to get away and spend some time alone, we had multiple options to chose from for restaurants, within a short walking distance. I would highly recommend this property to anyone looking to relax with loved ones, while actively experiencing the amazing culture of Costa Rica!

  • Stayed: April 2008
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Thank z026019
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,175 - 1,181 of 1,276 reviews

Reviewed 20 May 2008

We stayed at Buena Vista Villas and Casa with a group of 14 adults, we stayed in three casas that were beautiful. The decor was fantastic and the view were great. We would get up every morning and have coffee on the verandah and look out at the ocean (what a great sight). One morning we were visited by group of monkeys, we were all so excited to see not only the adult monkeys but also the babies......

The family pool was great and Javiar was a great bartendar, we also went down to the beach and and used the Boogie Board, the beach was never that busy.

At night we visited many of the local restaurants that are with in walking distance of the property, we particularly like Kapi Kapi. Also there is a grocery store about two block away that you can walk to and pick up snacks.

The property is very hilly, so it does take a bit to get around, but by the end of stay we all felt like we had been at the gym everyday. We did book several tours with the concierge and all were great we liked the horseback riding the best (with Valantine).

One last thing we book our stay direct through the web site and they could not have been more helpful in helping to plan our trip.

  • Stayed: April 2008, travelled with family
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Thank Dharma8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 May 2008

After doing thorough research on hotels on tripadvisor as well as having extensive discussions with the travel agent, I chose to stay at Buena Vista Villas based upon the reviews.

Good Parts of Buena Vista:
1) Personal concierge service on 24 hour cell phone stand by
2) Tule cafe - fairly good meals
3) Middle of jungle
4) "Private beach" - mostly negative
5) clean house keeping service
6) Maybe see monkeys in morning
7) Breakfast included in hotel stay
8) Excellent fruit juices

Bad Parts of Buena VIsta:
1) Personal concierge service on cell phone stand by with poor reception - cannot get hold of the person in case of emergency
2) No central reception area - this is not a hotel or resort
3) Bugs in room - ants or termites crawling through the cracks during the rain
4) Limited services - no gym, no other real ammenities that a hotel service would have
5) Lack of concern by the managerial serive - several phone calls were made to the manager by the travel agent without direct response from the manager - it seems as though they do not value bussiness or customer service.
6) Private beach - the shuttle service stops early around 5:00 pm or so. i actually walked down the steep hill which took 10-15 minutes and found that the place was empty. there was high tide and there were no place to relax. when it was time to go back up to the bungalow, it took close to 20-30 minutes as it was a very steep hill. you need to take the shuttle but there is no way to call the service.
7) Charging restaurant bills to the room means that they will add additional 15 percent to the total bill (which includes the total plus the tip!!)- not clearly mentioned
8) No receipts given at restaurant when charged to room
9) Many steps/hills --> dark at night with limited lighting --> need flashlight to get around --> this place is like a maze
10) There are armed guards in some of the villas and the staff did not recommend leaving the hotel premises at night.
11) Nothing else to do but watch tv unless you book tours

Overall:
This is not a place for everyone. First of all, this place is not a hotel. Do not expect hotel service or ammenities. This place is for people who want more privacy and intimacy. I do not recommend this place based upon my reviews as noted above. Hope this helps with hotel planning.

  • Stayed: May 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank WorldExplorer99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 May 2008

Given all the positive reviews here, my expectations were reasonably high for our 3 day trip in late April. We stayed in a villa, and overall thought the property was OK but would not return. Some key points:

1) The room itself was fine, though lacking some amenities one would expect at the prices charged (e.g. no iron in the room, no robes offered).

2) They ask you not to put used toilet paper in the toilet, but rather to put it in the open garbage can next to the toilet. This was disgusting and inappropriate for a property at this price level (~$600/night for a 2 bedroom villa). They should install working septic systems if that is the issue.

3) The service is well-intentioned but bad. There is no front desk; everything you need goes through an overworked "concierge" assigned to your room. The staff were very nice and accommodating, but clearly overworked. There are just too many rooms for each concierge to handle, and the service suffers as a consequence.

4) The property is spread along a very steep hill, running from the road at the top to the beach below. They do have a car that can drive you around, but using it involves long waits and sometimes multiple calls to the above-mentioned (overworked) concierges. Walking is fine if you are in good physical shape, but the hills are quite steep so it does require some effort.

5) Service in the restaurant is beyond slow. We ordered a 1 course lunch and it took 3 hours (no exaggeration) to get through the meal. The next day was faster (~90 minutes), but still slow. The food quality was not bad, not exceptional.

For the prices charged I expected more, and would not return.

  • Stayed: April 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
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2  Thank MikeBOS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BVVC, Manager at Tulemar Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 12 May 2008

Dear MikeBOS,

Thank you for staying with us at Buena Vista Villas and Casas and taking the time to write a review on your travels. I am sorry that we did not meet and exceed your expectations of the property. I would like to address your comments on behalf of Buena Vista as a point of clarification for other travels and for your understanding of our property.

1. The villas have irons and ironing boards available for the use of all villa guests. You would need to check with your concierge for this amenity. The villas do not offer robes, however the casas do have irons, ironing boards, and robes. The casas to have a higher rental rate to reflect the upgraded amenities, these noted here and others.

2. Our property has a fully working septic system that is a more tolerable system than most in Manuel Antonio. The signs in our units ask that you do not dispose of sanitary products and/or diapers. I am sorry that you had confusion on this issue.

3. Thank you for complementing our staff on the service you received during your stay. Our entire staff does work very hard to ensure your stay is enjoyable. We just came to the end of a very high season and some staff may seem to have been exhausted from this time. Each staff member will be taking additional time off during the slower seasons to rejuvenate.

We do not have a front desk, as we are not a hotel. Each guest is checked in directly into their unit so our staff could point out all of the features of the accommodations and explain the property. In addition to your personal concierge, the rancho at the pool is staffed from 7am – 7pm for all other guest needs.

4. During the high season, we did notice that guests waited longer than normal for the van service on the property and tried our best to accommodate every van request in a timely manner. We are working on a plan to rectify this situation, we do apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused your group.

5. The restaurant on the property, Tule Café, is owned by a different management company. We have no control over their service. I will however pass the information on to their manager on your very long wait time. There are many other dining options in the area.

Again, thank you for visiting. I do hope that we have cleared up some of the issues for you and you would consider staying with us again in the future.

Sincerely,
Buena Vista Management

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2008

My partner and I were in a Deluxe Room (room 208) for 5 nights in April 2008. I should say this was our first trip to CR and we stayed in MA the entire time. It was a great introduction to the country.

I picked this hotel mainly because of the swimmable beach right on the property. This was the main criteria for me - everything else was pretty much secondary.

The room
The room (as well as the entire property of Tulemar Gardens) was tastefully furnished, very understated. There was nothing tacky or gaudy about the property and accommodations. I was very, very happy with our room. It was very clean and had a huge, incredibly comfortable king bed (though I was told we could not get a room with a king - only two queens - so I was pleasantly surprised). The room also had a mini fridge, microwave, "kitchen" sink, and dishes and utensils for two (but, strangely, no sharp knife - we ended up buying a cheap one at the supermarket nearby). There was also a TV with cable and built-in VCR and a DVD player, ceiling fan, a/c, phone, alarm clock and safe. The bathroom had a nice walk-in shower with two types of shower heads.

The only problem in the room at all was with two of the bamboo shades. One wouldn't go up, and one wouldn't go down completely. I think the mechanism had rusted with all the humidity. I didn't complain about this because it wasn't really a big deal, but it could be annoying for other people.

Also, the night we got there, there were two or three tiny ants on the bed. This actually wasn't a big deal, but when we got there I was so tired and disoriented - it was sort of a case of sensory overload - that I thought, "Oh great, just what we need." But, you know what, it's the forest and there are bugs. We got used to them. You just brush them off and go about your business. The doors to the balcony have spaces and bugs will visit you - but we never had anything too weird or scary. That's what the geckos are there for. In fact, I was surprised by the very small number of flying bugs. I think I saw maybe one mosquito the entire time.

I was initially disappointed that room 208 had no ocean view, but I quickly became grateful for our balcony view. We were totally surrounded by lush vegetation, and we felt like we were immersed in the jungle. Also, our balcony was totally hidden - I noticed that many of the balconies of the other villas overlooked the walkways, which would have allowed people to look up and see us lounging around. In theory, people could also just walk onto many of the balconies as the walkway led directly to them. I loved the fact that we had total privacy.

The grounds and wildlife
The grounds of BVV/Tulemar were phenomenal! As I said before, it really felt like we were immersed in the jungle, and I guess we were basically. We saw more wildlife on the property than anywhere else in the area (granted, we didn't take a guided hike of the park, so I'm probably not being totally fair - and we did see an armadillo AND a sloth in the back yard of Cafe Milagro, just down the road) - but the grounds of the hotel are obviously home to many creatures.

Our fist morning we were greeted by a troop of squirrel monkeys with babies on their backs, immediately followed by a troop of white-faced capuchin monkeys. It was AMAZING! They were probably looking for a handout, but I know that feeding them is a no-no, so we didn't. We also saw a pizote sleeping from our balcony; geckos on the balcony; a basilisk lizard on the tree in front of the balcony; several iguanas and other lizards; purple-and-orange crabs on the walkways; hummingbirds; several other birds I can't name; a blue morpho butterfly several times; and several frogs at night. Of course - as mentioned before - the plants and flowers were truly out of paradise. You HAVE to go smell the frangipani flowers on the Pizote Trail. To die for. We even picked a ripe banana from a tree and ate it (I don't know if this is allowed or not, but we did it).

As said many times before, the property is on a VERY steep incline. There is a shuttle you can call to take you up and down, but we never did. We live in NYC and walk everywhere and love to walk, so we never used the shuttle or a taxi to go to or from the beach or to leave the property. I guess we could've taken the shuttle and cabs all the time, but I know I wouldn't have seen as much wildlife. Our villa was basically equidistant from the entrance of the property and the beach, so I believe it was a perfect location. I would say it took us about 8 minutes to walk to the beach, and about 8 to 10 minutes to walk out of the property (walking up takes longer! - and make sure you stop and get your breath).

There were at least two ways to walk to the beach. The paved Pizote “Trail” – which was actually a road. And the more woodsy “south beach trail”. We used both, and they each had their own charms and sights. The advantages of the Pizote Trail is you don't have to watch your step as much and there are a lot more flowers along the way, but I liked the other trail a lot too.

Food
The included breakfast was very good and plentiful - no complaints there. We did use room service from the TuleCafe two nights when we were too tired to leave. The first night we were there it took forever and they got the order wrong, but we were too exhausted to care. The second time I ordered a chicken burrito, and it was quite tasty. BUT, I highly recommend you get off the property for dinner and lunch when you can. All the food we had in the area was very, very good.

I recommend Angel, up the hill about 3 blocks across from the supermarket - very good authentic (I think) Costa Rican food. The most amazing black bean soup I’ve ever tasted! Salsipuedes right next door was amazing also - Marcella, one of the owners, was wonderful to talk with. Great tapas. We also ate at Barba Roja, just about two doors down, two nights – yummy food and the most amazing sunset view. As I said, there’s a small supermarket about 3 blocks toward Quepos that was great. We also ate at Marlin down at the public beach, and it was very good too. We never had a bad meal while in CR. All of these places are really affordable too.

Staff
Lastly, as everyone has said, Fernando was there to help with whatever - he's basically the virtual front desk. He made it very clear he was there in case we needed anything. We're not luxury resort types, and we're very independent, so the idea of calling someone for help was foreign to me - I'm just not comfortable with it. I wasn't even comfortable letting them take our luggage up to our room, but they insisted. I just like to do things for myself. So, we ended up calling Fernando only about 3 times, but I knew he was there - so that was great. I knew if I needed anything, I could call him.

By the end of the trip, we became familiar with all the staff at breakfast at TuleCafe. They were all great. At first it was a little formal, but the staff realized we weren't formal people and started to talk with us more. I feel like we succeeded in lowering that artificial wall between us, at least a little bit.

Complaint
This is the only reason I'm not giving my experience a total 5 stars. One of the staff members who works for both Tulemar and BVV made us unnecessarily uncomfortable. I won't give his name - I really wouldn't want him to lose his job over this - but he was very, very pushy when it came to trying to get us to have drinks. I'm sure he's used to hustling rich folks for tips - and I can't blame him for that I guess - but it became very, very annoying. I guess most people go on vacation and drink a lot. We don't. Every time we saw him - whether at BVV, at the TuleCafe or down at the beach - it was like a constant salesman. He just wasn't getting the drift that we weren't interested, and we started to actively avoid him - not something I want to deal with on a vacation. He actually asked us something even more inappropriate toward the end of our stay, but I won't go into it here. He was the only person we had any problems with the entire trip. It didn't ruin our trip or anything - and it was pretty minor really - but it did make us feel uncomfortable.

All in all, our experience at BVV was amazing. Because of where we stayed and what we saw at the property, we didn't feel the need to do a bunch of tours. We really got to relax AND see a lot of wildlife we'd never seen before. it was a perfect vacation - and we would return to BVV and Tulemar, and we will definitely return to Costa Rica!

  • Stayed: April 2008, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank plumboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 April 2008

We spent four nights in a two bedroom casa in March and had an amazing time. My family of four was very comfortable and happy here. We had a partial ocean view and a great view of the forest. It was great sitting on the porch and spotting monkeys in the trees and looking at the birds. One of the best parts about this place is the private beach. It is really beautiful. It is a long, steep walk up from the beach to the casas, so you will probably want them to give you a ride. The breakfasts were great. We had lunch a couple days down out the beach and one day by the pool. All the meals were very good. Jorge, the pool bartender, gives great guided tours of Manuel Antonio Park. I would definitely recommend a guided tour of the park. The guides all have telescopes and you won't see very much without a guide. They recently started a new concierge service where you have one contact and you can call his cellphone any time. He checks you in when you arrive and takes care of anything you need during your stay like book tours or restaurant recommendations and reservations. The service worked very well. They even did some laundry for us free of charge. We would definitely come back here.

  • Stayed: March 2008, travelled with family
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1  Thank traveler128
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 April 2008

We stayed at the Buena Vista for three nights recently and had a very nice time. The rooms are comfortable and clean. The bed was probably the best one we slept on in Costa Rica. The only complaint that we would have about the room is that there was no TV remote and the reception was very fuzzy, but you don't go to CR to watch TV anyway.

The breakfast was so-so. The fruit was amazing (as it was throughout CR), but the rest was par. Nothing horrible, but nothing great. I would also try to avoid the restuarant, Kapi-Kapi, across the road (we called it Krapi-Krapi). The food was overpriced and it was not very good, even though it was highly recommended by the staff.

The best part of Buena Vista was the wildlife that surrounds you. Monkeys would come down and visit in the morning and then go back up the hill in the evening. We saw more monkeys while staying at the Buena Vista than anywhere else in CR. We also had an iguana sun itself on our porch. Also the views of the sunset in the evenings were fantastic. Well worth it just for that.

The beach was also a definite plus. I'm not sure there is another hotel in the area of this class that has a private beach. The beach was great and they had kayaks and boogie boards for your use.

  • Stayed: March 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank Newman_5a_5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Tulemar Resort

Address: Tulemar Gardens, Manuel Antonio 6350, Costa Rica (Formerly Buena Vista Luxury Villas)
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Manuel Antonio
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Luxury Hotel in Manuel Antonio
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Manuel Antonio
Price Range: £143 - £651 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Tulemar Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 38
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to Tulemar Resort The Premier Resort Hotel in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Rated as the number 1 resort hotel in Central America and Costa Rica and number 9 in the World by Trip Advisor Tulemar Resort is a full service resort set in the peaceful 33-acre gated and secure Tulemar Gardens Condominium. A wide variety of standalone accommodations are available for our guests, including the famed Tulemar Bungalows & Villas, as well as our luxurious 1, 2, and 3 bedroom Buena Vista Luxury Villas. The property itself is spectacular, nestled in a lush rainforest overlooking the beautiful Manuel Antonio coastline. Surrounded by nature, Tulemar Resort features incredible gardens, walking paths, thriving wildlife, and the ONLY exclusive sandy beach in the region. At Tulemar Resort you will enjoy the luxury and privacy of your very own villa, along with the amenities of a high end resort, including concierge service, daily maid service, 4 swimming pools, beach bar, spa services, tour desk, and the best sunset bar and restaurant in town. We invite you to review our website for photos and details, then book one of these magnificent villas or bungalows and experience the most unforgettable vacation of your life! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Buena Vista Luxury Villas Hotel Manuel Antonio National Park
Buena Vista Hotel And Casas
Tulemar Resort Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio

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