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“An "experience" worth every penny, and every moment spent.”
Review of El Remanso Lodge

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El Remanso Lodge
Ranked #3 of 42 Hotels in Osa Peninsula
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Charlottesville, Virginia
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“An "experience" worth every penny, and every moment spent.”
Reviewed 26 August 2010

We ventured to El Remanso Lodge with our two kids, 12 and 15 years of age, in July 2010 during the “rainy season”. The first leg of our flight was into San Jose, a mid-sized but perfectly functional airport in the center of the capital city. Due to the frequent afternoon thunderstorms, flights from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez, the nearest town to the resort, take off twice daily before noon, so we stayed the night in San Jose itself (don't even dream of driving from San Jose to the Lodge on your own if you're new to the country). It is fairly small but very friendly city – at least we didn't have any problems. We stayed at one of the hotels recommended by El Remanso, and it was a welcome introduction to the people and environment, replete with great views of the city and countryside, orb spiders, and the "Marilyn Monroe" bar and restaurant. The people were warm and eager to engage in conversation, and the vast majority speaks much better English than we did Spanish.
The following morning we set off for San Jose airport, to the Sansa terminal next door, one of two local airlines serving Puerto Jimenez. Be very explicit when directing staff and taxis, however, as it’s easy to confuse one commuter terminal with the other in a rush, and due to language differences – they are several miles apart. We eagerly boarded a 12-seat single-prop and set off right on time. The flight was great and only lasted an hour and a half, but there was plenty of scenery to take in during the flight including the multitude of rivers and villages the 7,000 feet or so below. We landed in torrential rain, but El Remanso staff were awaiting us on the ground with umbrellas, and they whisked us to the airport (an elaborate corrugated aluminum structure) and on to the El Remanso shuttle – a Land Rover Defender, for the trip to the lodge itself.
The ride to the Lodge was an experience in itself. Many thanks were due to the drivers, who expertly navigated the hour-long journey along the pock-marked and river-crossed road to El Remanso, chatting amidst the jostles while pointing out local wildlife along the way. What begins with a dash through Puerto Jimenez, the nearest town with a population of 5,000 and only opened to roads in 1986, continues along the potholes and rivers through the flatland replete with cattle farms, a billionaire’s personal project along the coast (local ecology in-mind, we were told), and on upward into the rainforest, to the lodge. If we felt on unfamiliar territory in Puerto Jimenez, the feeling was compounded tenfold as we approach the lodge – we plunged into the rainforest before long, finally arriving at El Remanso itself.
The lodge is comprised of several structures - a reception office, a large dining/entertainment/bar area jutting out over a forested crevice, a pool area filled with local rain/spring water, and a series of bungalows, many of them two-story to accommodate four or more, including our family. There is also a small massage hut, a separate viewing platform, a yoga hut, and Chonta, the resident rotweiller, who can appear a non-moving structure herself, at times. There are a number of paths connected to the lodge which are rife with plant and animal viewing opportunities, and a path down to the beach which is about a half-mile long. The path up from the beach can feel twice as long. All buildings on the property are attractive, built of local wood that resembles dark bamboo, and that are in places exposed to the elements aside from screens and fabric curtains.
Rooms are quite comfortable, including decks with hammocks and chairs. The property is on micro-hydro power, so there is electricity for very basic needs including charging small appliances, iPods, etc., but not much more. No television, no internet, or the like – however, if you wanted to come here you’d already be prepared for something truly unique. It doesn’t disappoint.
Once settled in we were oriented to our selection of activities (the more the better!), and select your lunch and dinner meals for the day (you’ll do this each morning). We were given a map and guidance with regard to local trails, dangers, and attractions, and left to our own devices. We did take advantage of this to explore some of the smaller trails, which was still exciting as we hiked around waterfalls and saw some wildlife not seen elsewhere during the trip.
Meals were wonderful all-round, and according to other guests we spoke with who had been elsewhere, have no match on the peninsula. Lunch and dinner was usually a choice between local dishes and more standard fare, where available. All of it was great, and the chefs were very accommodating to ad-hoc requests. There’s a focus on beans, rice, and fruits and vegetables local to the area, with proteins primarily consisting of chicken, pork, or beef from nearby farms. The wine list is robust enough to easily cater to most tastes, and the bar well-stocked. Breakfast is a thorough range of local and primarily American dishes – eggs, French toast, fruits, cereals, and so on. However the main attraction is the huge range of wildlife you’ll see in and around the restaurant – so always bring your camera. Our first afternoon there we saw three species of monkey wandering about, toucans, and scarlet macaws. That’s aside from the snakes, spiders, and lizards (iguana, geckos) hanging around the pool area at night.
Ironically, while nothing dangerous or dangerous-looking bothered us in the least – indeed most were happy with our close proximity and photography – a couple of things bear mention in the dining room. First, what appeared to be flies bothering our meals were actually stingless bees. Initially met by constant swatting, we soon took pity on them as, though they could occasionally bump into us, they most often ended up flying straight into the nearest liquid on the table and trapping themselves. We tended to rescue them, help them dry off, and sent them on their way – you’ll get used to them. Second, what appeared to be huge, nasty looking ants with iridescent gold abdomens were actually totally harmless. One can, if so inclined, pick them up and though they may protest, won’t actually sting or bite – again, we quickly considered them part of the meal experience, along with the geckos hunting along the rafters.
The activities we chose included dolphin-watching, the long hike, the night hike, and the zip-line. We also took the odd hike to the beach to see the tidal pools and “cayman” lagoon, and around the lodge.
The dolphin-watching involved a trip to Puerto Jimenez and onto a 25-foot fishing boat. We quickly saw bottlenose dolphins, and upon venturing out, spotted and came up close to the first humpback sighting of the season (confirmed via many radio conversations by our guide). We then went further down the bay to find some more playful spinner dolphins, which came within touching distance of us. Finally, our guide took us to a shallow bay so those so inclined could snorkel (hints covered below). It was a great time, with some spectacular wildlife sightings.
On the zip line and hiking tours, Gerardo, the resident biologist accompanied us throughout. He was an invaluable source of local enthusiasm and knowledge, and couldn’t wait to tell us “everything there is to know about….” And he pretty much did. We not only learned about parasitic plants, suicide trees, and some yet to be named, but interacted with a variety of other animals including leaf-cutter ants, several lizards and snakes, spiders, birds big and small, bats, and of course, monkeys (spider, squirrel, howler, capuchin).
On a few occasions we were able to quite closely observe monkeys in the trees above without being spotted ourselves for some time. When one group of howlers realized that we were maybe 60 feet below looking at them, they became a bit perturbed, flaying their limbs and seemingly taunting us with hoots and gestures. One of the males crossing directly above decided to take his angst out by urinating on us from overhead - thankfully the leaves above absorbed most of the insult. It seems the comments around the boards alluding to similar acts of anti-human expression are indeed true.
In any event, the outings truly made the whole experience, and are not to be missed. One of the most memorable moments occurred as we were coming back from the beach night hike. As we approached the first set of huts, Gerardo launched himself into a nearby bush and pulled out a retreating coral snake (highly venomous). The hook fell out of his snake stick but he deftly tired it out enough so that everyone was able to get some very close-up photos. He seemed to spot everything big and small, and truly did seem to know everything about everything! His tours were a particular highlight and very much recommended.
As for the practicalities, what follows is a list of “do’s and don’ts” that we learned along the way – follow or don’t at your own discretion:
- DO – bring light ankle-covering hiking shoes/boots. Hiking sandals are not enough protection for some activities.
- DO – pack light – around 25 lbs. in your checked luggage, as the local flights have weight limits and charge one dollar per pound over that. You won’t need much more anyway.
- DO – bring one flashlight per person. Small LEDs are fine, but one yellow-light (better spectrum) per family is ideal. These really help on the hikes where you need to scan up, down, and everywhere constantly.
- DO – bring insect repellant, but there are surprisingly few mosquitoes around – between four of us we had perhaps, four bites in total over the week.
- DO – welcome the geckos in your room! They chirp occasionally, but moths and other bugs will get into your room during the day and evening – the geckos appear to keep them in check, and we found ourselves wishing they’d perch themselves on our foreheads while we slept.
- DO – bring plenty of t-shirts and moisture-wicking clothes. Between activities, the sun, and the unpredictable rain, you may change once or twice a day, and clothes have a difficult time drying out, even overnight due to the humidity. The Lodge does have a cleaning service for $10, however, which we recommend using at least once.
- DO – take a handful of $5 bills (or the local equivalent) for tips – amazing how quickly these can go, but deservedly so. Beyond that and the odd souvenir, you won’t need money once at the Lodge.
- DON’T – worry obsessively over the food and water. Two of us had very mild GI complaints, but were not a hindrance - who knows what they could actually have been attributed to. Food was excellent day-in-day-out. The lodge was clean and well-kept.
- DON’T – pee while snorkeling in the bay. This "seemed" to attract jellyfish in the immediate vicinity and resulted in some stings (no, we didn’t try using it as pain relief afterward). Additionally, visibility in the water isn’t great – maybe a few feet – so if dark shapes (there are barracuda, sharks, etc.) in the water freak you out, give it a pass. It’s perfectly safe, however.
- DON’T – forget to take your camera – EVERYWHERE! Fair warning. If you ever thought you might want to pick up that zoom lens, now is the time – you won’t regret it. You'll get great shots of monkeys, in particular.
- DON’T – expect to wake up late (unless you’re a teen, in which case ours slept through the seemingly impossible). Most folks go to bed a couple hours after sunset, and awaken involuntarily to the “sounds” of howler monkeys at 5am. If it isn’t monkeys, it’s birds. Or something scratching outside. If nothing else, you’ll quickly find yourself forgetting the world you left behind – and that was something we were grateful for.
One last word about the staff at the Lodge, and all Costa Ricans we met along the way – they made the whole vacation a totally unforgettable and enjoyable experience. Everyone was extremely helpful and accommodating, and communication was not at all an issue. Everyone at El Remanso from the managers, reception staff, restaurant staff and chefs, cleaning staff, garden staff, Gerardo, the drivers – heck – each and every one, was so friendly; all of them seemed to carry a clear pride in this gorgeous country and its amazing natural diversity, and of course the Lodge itself.
In sum, between the people and the awe-inspiring array and proximity of the wildlife and activities, El Remanso created a truly unforgettable experience for all of us. Incredible.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with family
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6 Thank Piedog2006
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Quincy, Massachusetts
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 17 August 2010

I surprised my husband with a trip to El Remanso for our anniversary. He had always wanted to go to the rainforest, and as I searched, I found the perfect place. I was slightly concerned that we were going during the rainy season, but thankfully it only rained twice while there, and in the evenings! We were completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the setting, the ability to relax, the option for adventure everyday, and the amazing staff that not only took care of every need, but each person was willing to take time to talk with us about Costa Rica, the culture, and the environment.
We felt that the experience was like living on the Discovery Channel. The guided hike with Gerardo opened our eyes and enhanced the rest of our experience, as we learned about what we were seeing. After that day, we were prepared to do hikes on our own to the waterfalls, the beach, and through the rainforest. We went waterfall rappelling, did a zipline canopy breakfast, a bird watching trip, and went horseback riding. The ride through the forest and onto the beach, to amazing tide pools, was a highlight of the trip. We loved that our guide, Miguel Sanchez, was a local man who absolutely loved where he lived and wanted to share it with others. It was a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation...perfect fun!
We stayed in La Guinda, which is a beautiful cabin that provides the utmost privacy. In addition, we had visitors in the trees, such as toucans, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, and capuchin monkeys! The view from this deluxe cabin was so relaxing. At the end of an adventure filled day, we would spend time in the hammock or one of the chairs on the deck and just enjoy the wildlife that surrounded us.
I can't say enough wonderful things about El Remanso. Angie put all the details together for me. We were emailing so much before the trip that when I met her, I felt like we were already friends. The food was phenomenal, we never had a meal that didn't meet expectations. Gerardo taught us so much through the many adventures that we went on together. Everything was clean and beautiful.
I would recommend El Remanso for anyone who is looking for adventure in nature. It is a great place for couples who want to do more than sit on the beach. If you love nature, you will not be disappointed! We will definitely go back!

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank simplify42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Concord, New Hampshire
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 July 2010

Some travel memories are so wonderful, and so intensely pleasurable...that they will withstand the passage of time and comparison. Our stay at El Remanso is just such a memory. We will never forget this trip, and we have plans in place for our return.
Most sincerely,
John Partridge
7/19/2010

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank peartree61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Queens, NY
Level 4 Contributor
15 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 June 2010

My Husband and I were married during our stay at El Remanso and had the wedding / trip of a lifetime! The resort is amazing and the people that run the resort even more-so. The grounds are beautiful and very well maintained. Set on a hill with a breathtaking view of the ocean the resort is tucked well within the rain forest which can been seen and heard at all times... simply amazing! There are lots of activities that range from super adventurous to no too strenuous... there's something for everyone to do and the staff is always eager to assist in making your stay more enjoyable. Gerrardo was the most amazing guide that you possibly could have, he's practically a walking flora and fauna encyclopedia but it is also obvious that he loves his work and is very dedicated to it. My husband and I had our reservations about a destination wedding and bringing our guests pretty far from home. It became clear to us through our frequent correspondence with El Remanso that we had nothing to worry about. They seemed genuinely eager to be hosting our wedding and even came up with lots of great ideas which helped us out a lot. I can personally admit that I never would have thought to have traveled to my wedding ceremony in a cart pulled by a water buffalo but I can tell you that it was awesome! and I'm thrilled that we had that opportunity. We were married on a private beach not to far from the resort that looked like something I've only seen in movies... no one for miles... not even footprints on the beach, no buildings, nothing but an amazing piece of heaven on earth. (see photos) Our day was great, and we were both so glad that we had decided to be married in Costa Rica but grateful that we had found El Remanso because they put such effort and care into arranging our whole event. We both agree that we wouldn't have changed a thing if we had to do it all over again. A big thank you to Cindy, who planned out our entire wedding and made our day more special than we could have ever hoped for! We will be back to check on our Manglillo tree that we planted at the resort in honor of our wedding.. a gift that we weren't expecting but are very honored to have been given. I would highly recommend El Remanso to anyone! whether you're going on vacation or thinking of doing a destination wedding. You will be amazed by the unadulterated kindness and generosity that the staff possesses. The grounds are amazing and the food is fantastic! There was nothing we felt that was lacking while we were there. But there was a lot of things about a normal vacation that we enjoyed missing like an over-crowded resort with haphazard staff and a shortage of activities overrun with high maintenance tourists... none of that here! Thank you El Remanso for the wedding / trip of a lifetime!

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank edmunds13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 June 2010

My husband and I stayed in La Guinda cabin and had a fun, relaxing, romantic honeymoon. The staff is very warm and helpful, the cabin was beautiful, the beach was like something out of a dream, and the food was fantastic! We did the Honeymoon package and found it to be a very nice mix of active and relaxing activities. We had monkeys, tucans, and scarlet macaws outside of our cabin every day. The only thing that we didn't love were the bugs and the howler monkeys at night. But the bed was comfortable and the air was cool and fresh at night. We can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed December 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank LcLuven
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, Georgia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 June 2010

We went here for our honeymoon. We stayed in the La Guinda suite (best for honeymoon couples) and had the active package. The entire stay was amazing.

First of all, as the owner Daniel even mentioned to me, it is important that you realize that this place is not necessarily for everyone:
-The beach is a steep, relatively treacherous half-mile (or so) walk from the lodge
-You are pretty much on your own. It can almost feel eerie how you get to just go walk around these trails with so much freedom.
-At certain times of the year, it can rain A LOT, and you will have to be content in your room or in the lodge reading a book, enjoying the sounds, etc... there are no TVs, nothing like that.
-After four days here, you will be TIRED. It is a workout constantly walking up and down hills from point A to point B. This is not a place to be pampered (though you can be massaged and what not). This is a place to explore.

If those warnings frighten you, you probably should not come here. If they excite you (as they do me), you should definitely come here. Some things that make this place amazing:
-The staff is so cool (I am not usually one to say this). They love what they do, and you really get to know. At one point, there were only two other people staying at El Remanso with us (these numbers will vary depending on the time of year). It is a VERY personal experience.
-The nature is insane. Just go outside your room and look at a tree and you'll see something crazy going on. Every little place is an ecosystem. Monkies wake you up in the morning. They pass through the trees outside your room.
-The food comes in comically huge quantities, and it was probably the best food I have ever had (consistently). Each meal was just ridiculous. I really, really miss it. The beans were amazing.
-The beach is deserted. And it is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. The waves are the biggest waves I have ever seen (no swimming!). There is a freshwater lagoon for swimming. You get to walk down a creek in the rain forest. There are tidal pools like hot tubs by the ocean you get to sit in (hard to explain). It is an adventure. Everything about it is unforgettable. And it is, unlike some other places we went on our trip, authentic. Even Puerto Jimenez was great.

Advice:
You really need to plan ahead regarding what kind of clothes to bring. My wife and I brought Keen sandals, and once they got wet, they never dried (so humid!). Same went for all of our clothes. Once something got wet, it stayed wet. Be prepared for this. I don't really think that there necessarily is an ideal shoe for this place-- more than anything, you may want to bring a couple of pairs, and a lot of socks.... Our feet got pretty messed up. Particularly going to the beach and getting sand grinding against our feet, then having to walk back uphill with wet and dirty feet... It was pretty bad.
Also, this was apparently unusual, but we had a good bit of rain, which brought out the mosquitos. Even if they are not as bad as they were while we were there, you should bring bug spray. And DEFINITELY, everyone needs to have a very good pair of binoculars.

Have fun.

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Phinizy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lincoln, Nebraska
Level 6 Contributor
194 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 May 2010

El Remanso was great! We stayed in an open-air, two story cabin and it was great. Wildlife all around. Monkeys in the trees right outside the cabin, wonderful view from the cabin to the Pacific. The staff was great, got to know the owners a little and they were very nice. The grounds around the lodge are huge, lots of trails and waterfalls to see. Tough hike down to the beach, but the hike to the tide pools was amazing.

The food was excellent, the pool was nice and did we mention the views? Excellent location, plus the staff was helpful with suggestions on how to spend our time. They helped arrange a tree climbing tour, which was a highlight of the trip.

  • Stayed January 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Jason W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about El Remanso Lodge

Property: El Remanso Lodge
Address: Near Corcovado National Park, 8203, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Osa Peninsula
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#3 Green Hotel in Osa Peninsula
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:3 star — El Remanso Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 9
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Also Known As:
El Remanso Hotel Osa Peninsula
El Remanso Osa
El Remanso Lodge Costa Rica/Osa Peninsula

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