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“Peaceful secluded retreat” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of El Monte Sustainable Lodge

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El Monte Sustainable Lodge
Ranked #7 of 45 Speciality Lodging in Mindo
Certificate of Excellence
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
22 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Peaceful secluded retreat”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 June 2013

Mixed feelings about El Monte.

After a windy couple of hours drive from Quito we got to Mindo and then on to this remote lodge. We loved the rope pulley entrance (although later did have issues with waiting a while for someone to come and let us in).

The cabins were gorgeous. Wooden, very spacious and all very spread out. We did have to move cabins due to a wasps nest and leaking ceiling, but the staff were very helpful about it. The water, however, was never really hot enough, which was a shame as there was a great bath with a view. But we get that sacrifices like that often come with the eco-lodge territory.

The nature walks were great, plenty of toucans etc really close, and with really friendly, helpful guides. We also went out to the butterfly farm and chocolate workshop, both of which were really fun outings.

The food was fantastic. Almost no meat, but really tasty and inventive. The homemade hot chocolate was to die for!

One downside was that the owners weren't there and the manager, who we ate every meal with, didn't seem to know the answers to any of our questions. It was also inconvenient having to go to their office in Quito to pay beforehand.

Also, contrary to other reviews, alcohol was available there - however it was strangely kept in a locked cupboard meaning we had to wait quite a while for the manager to come and unlock it. Indeed overall there seemed to be very little trust of the Ecuadorian staff. We were told not to tip them directly as 'they wouldn't spend it responsibly' - instead we had to pay the manager, who then said she would add it to their paychecks.

Room Tip: The cabins by the river are perhaps best, but the bathroom of one is overlooked by the lake cabin...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ihearttraveltime
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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133 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
    104
    21
    5
    2
    1
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (37)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
183 reviews
131 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 166 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 June 2013

We stayed just one night and it was a worthwhile experience, but service and communication could be improved. Mindo is an adorable little town qutie a long drive north from Quito - a one night stay was a bit tiring and would not recommend as a day trip. Good road but very windy. Great birding and the tour to the "cock of the rock lek" was worth the entire trip. This property is beautiful, nicely landscaped with individual cottages by a river. The main building is open to the air with beautiful wood floors and a lovely place for a drink, birdwatching, and the healthy but tasty meals. Complaints? No orientation at all - when we arrived (exciting trip on a "swing" over the river), we were greeted by a young man with very limited English and shown to our cabin but there was no explanation of how anything worked, timeline for meals, etc. Electricity seems to be on a generator, and was quite variable - when we returned from dinner we found the entire cottage in darkness and had to fumble around for candles to get ready for bed (if the generator has limited hours, that would be fine - as long as we knew in advance!). Also, we were traveling as a couple with a 3rd guest and requested two separate rooms but were put all in one room - OK for one night but it certainly did cramp the "romance" factor and would have been nice to know before we booked that they could not accomodate the arrangement requested (no refund for the inconvenience, either). Walks with the owner on the property were a nice perk. All in all, I would recommend, but suggest to ask lots of questions in advance. Oh, they answer email and were very helpful in advance too.

Room Tip: Cabins are fairly spread out and all a bit of a walk to main pavilion - no obvious advantages of any...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank cantravnut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
elmontelodge, Director of Sales at El Monte Sustainable Lodge, responded to this review, 25 June 2013
Hello Everybody,

We would just like to clarify that we have electricity 24 hours a day
at El Monte that is provided from a micro-hydro system and the grid.
We are in the process of interconnecting the micro-hydro and the grid,
and we will be the first to do net metering in Ecuador! Also we do
not have a gas powered generator (and never have).

Thanks,

Tom and Mariela
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Level Contributor
185 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 May 2013

El Monte Lodge is across the Mindo river from this hiker-destination town in the cloud forest roughly 2 hours in the mtns. Northeast of Quito -- one arrives swinging over the rushing glacial river on a wooden bosun's chair rigged to a rope pulley. The owners, an American and his Ecuadoran wife, who I believe is part Huarani (an indigenous tribe), built the whole place. She as the main designer of both the log lodge and A-frame wooden cottages by the river and in the forest. The lodge is a high-arched thatched A-frame with open sides, an open-air grill and kitchen, comfortable sofas and chairs round a horno-type fireplace and library tables. Polished wood floors mean guests leave their shoes on the short stairs rising to the lodge platform. Food is served family style and is largely local produce, fruit and fish, much from their own garden; no alcohol is served so BYO if you want an evening glass of wine or spirits. Fresh eggs come from local hens and the breakfast omelets are special. Beds are fine, covered with Ecuadoran woven fabrics; large windows and 2nd story views of the river and forest; baths are rimmed with cement and embedded riverstones. No A/C, and rain fell every afternoon. Electricity is now provided by an ingenious small generator run by hydro-power from the natural fall of the Mindo River's swift current, but you'll want to sleep when it's dark in order to rise at 5:30 AM for the best birding. This area of Ecuador has perhaps the most concentrated population of tropical species in South America. We saw guan, golden-crowned Quetzal, several species of toucan, doves, and more than 25 types of hummingbird...and much more. Nearby, on the town side of the river, is a butterfly garden and small museum. I wish our three days had been five.

Room Tip: Ask for a lodge by the river, it is great to sleep in that sound.
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Judith D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Quito, Ecuador
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 April 2013

El Monte Sustainable Lodge is probably as “eco” as it gets in the Mindo area. This is noticeable in many ways and details, both lodge and management. Even the electricity is generated by a self-made hydro-electric system. The lodge itself is luxurious and very comfortable. Very romantic cabanas. Great bed, nice bathroom and lots of space. The beautiful dining area is a 2 minute walk from the cabins and holds a relaxing atmosphere with an extensive library, fire place, hammocks etc. Meals are served family-style and the owners are often there to join you. The meals are very good, healthy, with a special attention to vegetarians/vegans. The best of all is the location of the lodge: right out in the cloudforest jungle about 10 minutes by taxi from Mindo town. The forest is mainly secondary but most has regenerated back to nice forest and the accompanying reserve is full of orchids, insects, frogs, birds and other wildlife. The lodge has a bird list with over 300 species recorded on the lodge property. It is one of the easiest places to see specialties like the Sunbittern and Choco Toucan. There is a trail system with loops in a relatively flat area and a steep hillside trail for hiking/enjoying the nature optimally. Lodging includes knowledgeable local guides and they bring you out for hiking, birding, or visiting nearby attractions like the butterfly farm or cable car. Other extras include a natural pool with a hot tub, they grow some of their own vegetables in the garden, plus they also have a “bio-station” building where researchers and volunteers can stay. I’m very sad to read the single “terrible” review available where people state it was an “infuriatingly miserable” stay. This review has been blown way out of proportion: surely there is seasonal rain and mud, and yes, spiders and other insects can enter the rooms. But don’t forget that you are in the middle of cloudforest jungle and not in Paris or New York! Also, it is perfectly understandable that the management asks you to take out your boots (and this is not because they do not want to clean the floor, the rooms have been very clean). Nothing wrong with the pricing (about $100 per night, including 3 meals and local guides), and a bargain for Western standards. In conclusion: it is a beautiful eco-lodge, surrounded by amazing nature, well run by very friendly and knowledgeable people.

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Dusan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 March 2013

This is a gem of a place. Peacefull, quiet and in a very natural setting. Lots of birds. Stayed there for four nights. Natalia, our bird guide for two days was great. Food was excellent, and Tom, the owner was a very engaging host. We made good use of our rain jackets each afternoon. Would love to go back.

  • Stayed January 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Don S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
50 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 March 2013 via mobile

Amazing Eco lodge in the middle if the Mindo Cloud Forest.

The food is absolutely amazing! And sustainable! The staff are all lovely and we were able to meet Tom, the owner, and find out a little about the history of the place.

Would love to go back.

Take some bug repellant. There are these little nasty black flies that have us some of the worst bites we've ever had!

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank embly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Redmond, Oregon, United States
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 January 2013

I stayed at El Monte in January for 6 days on my own. I was fortunate enough to meet the owner, Tom and Mariela. A friend of theirs, Mike, was helping them out that week and he was great! They all made me feel very at home and welcome. The lodge was very beautiful and my lovey cabana was next to the river and that was great for helping me sleep at night. I felt very safe there. The system for getting across the river to the resort was awesome! You sat on a swing that was pulled on a cable by someone on the other side. Very fun!
The main house was all open with a fire pit and great places to sit and watch for birds. The food was outstanding with wonderful deserts twice a day. My bird guide, Natalia, was fantastic! She was incredible at spotting birds and listening for their calls. I saw so many beautiful birds. I would definitley consider coming here again. They were attentive to me without being overbearing and were always concerned about how things were going for me. There was one guest who fell ill and they were very good to her. It is about a 40min walk into the town of Mindo. I toured the chocolate factory, butterfly farm and orchid garden. All were great. There is an internet cafe in town too. Many thanks to the owners and staff for making my experience so woderful!

  • Stayed January 2013, travelled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Mary D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about El Monte Sustainable Lodge

Property: El Monte Sustainable Lodge
Address: Roca E4-49 y Amazonas | Pasaje Chantilly, Mindo, Ecuador (Formerly El Monte Lodge)
Region: Ecuador > Pichincha Province > Mindo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free Parking Restaurant Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 45 Speciality Lodging in Mindo
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
El Monte Sustainable Lodge is an ecotourism destination in every sense of the word. We emphasize nature here at El Monte, in the form of birdwatching and observation of wildlife in general. Aside from the natural focus of our lodge, we also supply many of the vegetables, eggs and more from our organic garden. Most of our energy is supplied by a microhydro plant. We are located in a 110 acre reserve that is close to the Mindo-Nambillo Reserve of over 40,000 acres. At only 3 kilometers from the town of Mindo we are within access of many the activities, such as the Butterfly Garden, Ziplines, White-water Tubing, waterfalls and more. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
El Monte Hotel Mindo

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