My husband and I stayed at El Remanso during the last week in November and it was one of the most incredible weeks ever.
First off, the service here is above and beyond the best, from the very beginning to the end of your experience. It starts off by communicating with the bubbly and super helpful Gabby, who endured my zillions of questions and helped us book our flight and transfers. Then you have the managers, Silvia and Eli, who greet you and give you an orientation when you arrive. Silvia has a masters and is doing postgrad work on tree genetics, and not only is knowledgeable about wildlife but is also no-nonsense and really helpful with any of your questions. (We had wanted to go to Corcovado National Park, but at $300, she recommended we'd see much of the same stuff just exploring the property). Eli is very sweet and friendly and was also helpful in helping us with any requests or questions. The guides are unbelievable: they know so much about the local flora and fauna. Gerardo, who also has a masters, is running investigations about several species of trees along with doing his incredibly enlightening tours. Then the restaurant/bar staff, grounds staff, and drivers are all absolutely fantastic, be it stopping three times during the night drive up to the hotel to show us incredible creatures, or happening upon a baby boa constrictor or an escaped parrot and sharing them with us, or just making conversation, they were all great. We also met the two owners the last day, who are great people, too.
We stayed in one of the classic cabins for 5 nights and in one of the deluxe cabins for 2 nights. It is worth spending the extra to stay in a cabin because they are incredible, with unbelievable views of the jungle and ocean. Even though La Guinda cabin was bigger with a huge tub and more privacy, I still loved El Lucero, which had comfy lounge chairs and a nice deck. The rooms are clean with beautiful woods and a hammock and big bed with a mosquito net.
We did a number of activities, but none of the excursions, though I heard good things about them. First, we did a guided tour with Gerardo, where we learned so much about the local flora and fauna; he is so knowledgeable. We even got to feel a bat's heartbeat as it slept in a curled palm leaf! The most exciting activity was waterfall rappelling, which was challenging but so much fun and absolutely worth it. I also did the zipline, which was a bit disappointing but getting to watch wildlife from the platform was really cool.
Most of the time, though, we explored the trails and beach on our own. There's an amazing lagoon where you can cool off or observe wildlife, and tidepools where you can do the same. You can walk for miles on the north side of the beach; we walked to the first point a few miles up where there's a marshland and a turtle egg sanctuary. The trails are amazing and you'll always see cool wildlife.
Here's a collection of the wildlife we saw during our time at El Remanso: toucans, scarlet macaws, fer-de-lance snakes (eek!), tons of local birds (including little ones, like hummingbirds, and big ones like hawks), frogs, and toads, agoutis, coatis, a tayra (we think), a king vulture, capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, and spider monkeys, butterflies, a curassow (big black turkey-like bird), jesus lizards, dart frogs, worm salamanders, bats, and iguanas. Two of the coolest things we saw were an olive ridley turtle trying to bury eggs on the beach, which is apparently really rare, as well as a red-footed booby (like the blue ones, but with red feet). We also saw an amazing snake, an anteater, and a sloth on the way to and from the hotel.
The food is ok; the best thing you can get is the fish and fruit. A lot of the food is local, too. It's also good to stick to some of the tico food, like rice and beans. Also, never be afraid to ask for more! Be warned that drinks like soda, lemonade, and alcohol are not included, and there's a 10% gratuity tax on bar expenses.
The humidity can make it really hot, but buildings are designed to catch natural breezes, and I never felt hot at night. During the day, they give you plenty of water, and the beautiful pool (powered by solar power) is a blessing when you come back from a hike.
Getting here is hard, but that's because it's worth it! We took a transfer from San Jose, and though it was more expensive than the flight, it let us see whole parts of the country along the way (and not have to wait until the next day for a flight). The flight back on a small plane was a bit scary but had incredible views.
One of the most incredible things about this place--beyond everything I already mentioned!--is that it is completely sustainable. The electricity, water, sewage, trash--everything is produced or processed on site or recycled. There's some info on their website, but ask about Silvia's presentation, which she gave one night and shows in detail how everything works.
That said, this place is not for:
-people who are squeamish about bugs or lizards. This is the forest: there are many of them and sometimes you may have to escort one out of your room.
-people with small children. There were some people with small children staying there, but I think it's inappropriate (and definitely disturbs the other families and couples staying there). If you bring kids, they should be 9 or 10 and up. This place is 40 minutes from the closest city, and therefore doctor, and has really steep trails and snakes. The kind of people who bring small children here are either adventurers or, I suspect, just don't really know what they're getting into.
-those on a budget. It can be expensive to get here (about $500 roundtrip from San Jose, unless you're coming from somewhere closer or renting your own car). The garden rooms are cheapest but unless you are traveling around and just stay here for one or two nights, it can get a little pricey. One or two nights is ok, but you should spend as much time as you can here to take full advantage!
This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and well worth every penny.
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- Also Known As:
- El Remanso Hotel Osa Peninsula
- El Remanso Osa
- El Remanso Lodge Costa Rica/Osa Peninsula