This hotel, located high in the mountains of Escazu, has a spectacular view. It also offers reasonable monthly rates. Unfortunately, it does not have much else to commend it.
The hotel's web site claims that it is a "world class villa style hotel." You can judge the truth of that claim after reading this review.
The site also displays attractive photographs. Unfortunately, the photos do not accurately depict the state of the property. The exterior of the property was constantly being painted, for example, but other maintenance was simply neglected. The photographs of the office are accurate, but the owner's office is by far better maintained than the apartments. The photos also show curtains and solid wood doors in one apartment, but most have only metal blinds on the windows and french doors without blinds or curtains, which means that you awaken whenever the sun rises.
These are also not villas, but duplex apartments, many of them efficiencies, some quite small.
Monthly rates are fairly reasonable, ranging from $600 monthly for an efficiency to $1800 monthly for the penthouse. The rate is lower if you sign a long term lease, but month to month rentals are available. If you rent monthly, you do not get the maid services or breakfast promised on the web site, which quotes only daily rates. Weekly maid service costs about $12.
But you get what you pay for, or in this case, less than what you pay for.
The services promised include phone service, Internet access (WiFi), cable television, and discounted long distance phone calls.
The phone service, however, was erratic, and the owner/manager failed repeatedly over three weeks to respond to requests for repairs with anything more than unfulfilled promises. Ultimately, the owner sent his security guard to make a repair, but it was ineffectual. Phone service does not include local cellular telephone calls, a major problem in a country in which taxi drivers are contacted on their cell phones and cellular phones seem to be more popular than land lines.
The cable television service provided only part of the basic channels. About half could not be received or were too distorted to watch. Again, the owner repeatedly promised to repair the problem, but did not.
The Internet service is also sporadic. The cable modem is located inside the hotel office, but the hotel has no staff with access to the office when the owner is not present. The owner is not on the premises most of the time. Therefore if the Internet service fails on Friday afternoon, the guests must wait for the owner to return on Monday morning. The Internet service failed frequently.
The discounted long distance service is Internet based, so if the Internet is not functioning, neither is the long distance service.
The rooms are poorly maintained. The maid is not given a brush to properly clean, resulting in stains on the bathroom tiles. In my one bedroom apartment, the french door to the outside terrace was warped, creating a gap between the door and the window pane inside it, and between the door and its mate. That allows the many small creatures who live in Costa Rica to enter. The door to the refrigerator freezer was broken and the door to the refrigerator did not close properly. The wooden floors had gaps between some planks and badly needed refinishing. There is no repair person on duty at the hotel.
In my neighbor's efficiency apartment, one of the two burners on the electric stove did not function and this problem was not repaired, despite her repeated requests. The roof also leaked during a heavy rain, common in the summer months. One drawer would not open or close. The curtains were tattered. Her phone also only worked intermittently. Neither of our apartments had been properly cleaned when we moved in.
The location is not near any stores or restaurants. The nearest bus stop is 800 meters away, down a very steep hill. Taxis or a rental car is the only viable method of transportation. Unfortunately, a guest cannot call a taxi when the phone is not working.
Perhaps the worst problem is the noise, despite the fact that the hotel is located in a very quiet neighborhood. Some restaurant patrons leave after midnight, and they park as close as three feet from the nearest duplex. In addition, the owner allows guests to choose whether to use a remote control (a $30 deposit is required, one that the owner did not refund when I departed) to the gate. (There is a motorized gate for cars and a pedestrian gate opened with a key). Consequently, guests honk their horns until the watchman appears to open the gate for them. This occurs at all hours of the morning and night and when the watchman does not immediately respond, the car horns are used incessantly. In one 24 hour period, the same guest awakened me at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, 7:30 a.m. Sunday, and after midnight early Monday morning. The owner does not seem to have figured out that guests can simply be told to park on the street and use the pedestrian gate if they arrive after 11 p.m. or before 7 a.m. without a remote control, and that the watchman will not respond to honking. The noise problem can be reduced, but not eliminated, by choosing a room far from the front gate (three rooms are located within 50 meters or closer to the gate) aand far from the restaurant (two rooms seem to be distant enough to avoid most restaurant noise).
My apartment was not air conditioned. Air conditioning is not necessary in this location, but you must keep the windows open, which increases the noise problem.
The hotel lacks a pool, gym or similar amenities. It has a restaurant, but it is expensive by Costa Rican standards and is open only for dinner. The hotel does not operate the restaurant, and instead leases the space. There is a laundry, and the maid will do your laundry (including ironing) for a small fee. The owner will provide a microwave, dishes, eating utensils, plates and drinking glasses, upon request. The microwave I was given, however, was filthy and the outside was covered with some sort of sticky substance that I was unable to remove despite considerable effort.
The owner speaks excellent English. The staff is friendly but speaks only Spanish. The staff consists of a watchman, the maid, and a laborer who paints and performs gardening work.
The owner is nominally on the premises from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday but he arrived late and left early much of the time, and some days he was absent most of the day.
When the owner is absent, he cannot be contacted. He even suggested that I call him when the Internet service failed. But he had forgotten that his contact number is a cellular telephone, and the guest phones are not enabled to call cell phones. When I pointed this out, he was silent. I then told him that I also asked his staff to phone him, but that his cell phone was turned off. Again, he was simply silent.
When I left this hotel (sooner than planned), I explained to the owner why I was leaving, mentioning the problems described above. His reply was that this is "nature. It is the way this country is." This has not been my experience in other Costa Rican hotels, however, which provide the services they promise.
In my opinion, this is a low-budget hotel, not the world class villa hotel advertised on the web site.
- Also Known As:
- Villas Bellavista Costa Rica/Escazu