We picked Adventure Inn for our first (and only) night in San Jose because of the wonderful reviews online and its close proximity to the airport. When the owner learned that we were getting married in Costa Rica he upgraded our room to a jacuzzi suite! We had a group of 20 travelers (varying in age from 6 to 80) and the hotel was perfect for everyone! They set up our Ram Luna Dinner and Shuttles and even managed to secure a nice discount! The staff was so friendly, the hotel was very clean and comfortable and the bar was awesome! They even stored our luggage for a week while we ventured to Montezuma on those small planes with luggage weight limits! The hotel is very close to the airport which was super convenient. This was a perfect spot for our whole group to meet up and we will certainly stay here again on our next trip. We had room #35 and I will be asking for the same room - loved the terrace!
Since we were traveling with a group of 20 people we decided to meet up in San Jose and stay the night before moving on to our next destination. Ram Luna seemed like the perfect place to celebrate our arrival to Costa Rica and we were right! The restaurant is very cool and set up to accommodate large groups of people. The food on the buffet was not the best we had in Costa Rica but it was good. The local wine was not to my liking but they also offered beer. The MC did his best to make our group (and others) feel welcome as he shouted out the places we were all from. There was a little bit of confusion as to whom we were to pay since we came with a package from our hotel that included the shuttles to restaurant. In the midst of the confusion it was hard not to feel like they thought we were trying to rip them off. The dancing and fireworks were a nice touch. The restaurant has spectaculars views of San Jose at night! Make sure you bring a sweater no matter how hot you were that day - we were FREEZING outside! The drive from our hotel was sketchy at best (crazy traffic/long winding roads/accidents).... but an adventure for sure!
They also tell you to get there an hour or so early. You wait in a long line only to get to the counter to be told that it is too early to check in for the flight!!!! They made us wait ½ an hour and come through the line again. Wait until you read about our return flight!! OMG!
After our horrible experience with Sansa Airlines we were happily greeted by Eduardo (Ylang Ylang's preferred shuttle driver) and driven to Sano Banano. We arrived at Sano Banano hot and tired from our trip. Mario, the shuttle driver for Ylang Ylang, was a total pleasure! We knew from the moment we met him we were going to the right place! He was wonderful with our 6 year old and has the amazing ability to make everyone comfortable (even in the Tropical heat!) and happy. He is an asset to this resort, for sure! Our first impression was spot on!
Ylang Ylang is absolutely beautiful. As beautiful as the images are on their website (and here as well), nothing could prepare us for the "whole picture." The grounds are meticulously cared for and lush with tropical foliage. The landscaping was truly breathtaking. The resort was also much larger then we envisioned. A real slice of heaven on earth.
We stayed in Dome #5 "Colibri" (2 queen size beds) which is a little bigger then Domes 1-4, but lacked an inside shower. The outdoor shower really added an exotic touch. The outside shower is pretty dark at night so ask the restaurant for one of their hurricane candle lanterns.... talk about romantic!!! Dome #5 is not lined in front of the ocean as the other domes but you can still see the ocean and hear the wonderful sound of the crashing waves. Breathtaking! We loved the location of this Dome and it will be our choice when we return. It was bit more private since it did not have domes on either side and we loved having the forest behind us which was home to so many animals and lizards.
The bed had a mosquito net but there was no need to use it during our stay. We had an occasional spider on the wall and a visiting crab during our stay.... but nothing biting or annoying. The ocean breeze and the trees kept the dome at a pleasant temperature and the cool nights were cool enough to warrant blankets. An air conditioner unit was NOT necessary and would greatly diminish the ambiance. Ylang Ylang's decision not to put A/C units in the domes was a good one in our opinion. Everyday the dome is furnished with fresh flowers and towel designs that are beautiful and make you feel extra special. The day of our wedding our dome was covered in flower petals.
The restaurant at Ylang Ylang was Out-of-this-World Fabulous! We were worried that since dinner was included in the rates that we would miss out on local fare. We found no need to venture to other restaurants. Every dish was a stroke of genius and equally delicious. The Sea Bass was incredible. My new husband does not like seafood and he found himself ordering seafood every night during our stay. Perfection! The Huevos Rancheros were our favorite breakfast item! Our 6 year old was absolutely crazy over the Banana Pancakes!
The swimming pool was one of our favorite hang outs. The pool side service was spectacular and the mixed drinks were scrumptious. Danny can make a mean mojito folks!!!! DH says to order a Monkey Business! The kids loved the pool and jumping off the waterfall.
The couples massage is a must-do item. Trixie was awesome and the woman (forgot her name) who worked on my new husband was equally as good. Trixie managed to fix the problem I was having with my ears after the Sansa flight (due to a preexisting medical condition)!!!
Once we were at Ylang Ylang we really felt no desire or need to venture off the grounds. Aside from walks, Isla Tortuga and a couple visits to town we were completely satisfied to stay on our oasis. The stacked rocks and fresh water (natural) pool was as far as we ventured to the right and town was as far as we ventured to the left.
The employees at Ylang Ylang are top notch! In fact, they were the best group of people we met during our entire stay in Costa Rica . Julie and Moraya were always at the front desk, and filled our every request with big smiles. We were so sad to leave Ylang Ylang and our new "friends" but thought we would think the same about our other destinations. Although we loved everywhere we went, we never left with that feeling again. In fact, a day never went by where we did not wish we were back at Ylang Ylang.
Ylang Ylang booked our tour to Isla Tortuga with Zuma Tours and we couldn't have been happier. We had 19 people in our group so we had a boat all to ourselves. The guides were very friendly and were quick to slow the boat to a stop so that we could witness dolphins, whales and a passing shark..
Thankfully the shark viewing was on our way home, and not on our way to the snorkeling point! The guides were very helpful in assisting our 6 year old who was afraid of wearing a mask - go figure. The area they took us to snorkel was nice. We viewed starfish, pufferfish, numerous coral reef fish - even Nemo and Dory, sea cucumbers, dog fish, sea urchins and anemones. The guides constantly surfaced with objects to show everyone and alerted everyone to the sting ray!
If you have younger kids you may want to bring or purchase your own snorkeling gear. The mask was way too big for our 6 year old and filled with water. Basically, he couldn't use it. The mask I had was used so many time it leaked as well. They are cheap enough in town and I think comparable to the rental price.
The Island of Isla Tortuga has a gift shop (so much for the uninhabited island as per brochure LOL) and porta johns that cost one dollar to use. You can also rent lounge chairs.
The BBQ fish was awesome that the guides prepared for us for lunch. The guides cut up fruit and even hacked up coconut for us. Pura Vida!!!!
Since the boat was our group only we pretty much got to do what we wanted. Some of us stayed on the island and mixed drinks, others swam in the beach, others went on giant conch shell searches (and found them!!!), and other had the boat take them back to the snorkeling point.
We had an ultra-fabulous time and I highly recommend this tour to groups of people. Bring sun block...... and make sure you use plenty of it!
Since our wedding itinerary is listed online and our wedding was broadcast live on the internet we have received a significant amount of emails asking about having a wedding at Ylang Ylang. Following are our comments of our Ultra-Fabulous Wedding at Ylang Ylang.
We could not have found the most perfect place in the world to get married! Kaya was proficient in asking for and fulfilling all my requests. Patricia was amazing! She was very organized and the wedding was so professionally run there was barely a chance to stress. The flowers were phenomenal and the words that Juan Carlos Fonseca Herrera, the officiant, spoke were moving and sentimental. There was not a dry eye on the beach! The service was on the sand with the ocean as our backdrop. Guitar was played by our talented guest, Wayne H. The wedding was broadcast live on the internet using a laptop computer and camcorder. The broadcast was watched by over 100 people in various parts of the world.
Lenny photographed every step of the way and he has a great eye!
We had a buffet reception prepared by the same amazing chef! The food was plentiful, fresh, beautifully presented and delicious The wedding cakes were works of culinary art. Several of our guests stated that if they could get married all over again, they would have had our wedding. Flawless!
We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful, touching and meaningful wedding.
Today we did a lot of lounging around. We walked down the beach and watched crabs, collected shells and stacked rocks.
We love watching the monkeys!!!!
The swiming pool was Ty's highlight and the lounge chairs were ours! Thank God for fabulous Mojitos!!!
We stood in line on the a dusty air strip waiting for the guy as he argued with one passenger after anther about the weight of their luggage. He was aware of what flight we were on. We watched our plane land (unknown at the time that it was ours) People who were sitting were called to the line and dealt with before us and they boarded the plane. When it was our turn to get luggage weighed the guy told us to wait a second. He walked out to the plane, then the plane started its engine and took off. When he returned he immediately told us that we had just missed our plane!
The guy from Nature Air began to argue with him on our behalf, telling him that he knew we were on that flight and that it was 8:58 (Our flight left at 9:00). Then our driver began to argue with him (I ran to the van and stopped him - thankfully he was still there b/c he had been chatting with someone for a while!) The Sansa guy told us that he had 3 seats available on the next flight and we would have to pay 15 dollars a person (there were FIVE of us going on Sansa!) and the other two could get on a 4 PM flight!
The guy from Nature Air was so nice. He got on the phone and tried to find us seats on Nature Air. Our driver also got on the phone and contacted a private pilot from Aviones Taxi Aereo. After about 15 minutes we were able to get on the private plane for 85 dollars a person (we lost the Sansa money).
Aviones Taxi Aereo was a much larger plane, and an awesome flight! Their terminal at SJO was really nice with couches and all and a fancy private jet in the hangar! 431 01 60/4320293
Believe what you read about Sansa - I wish I had. They are a horrible little airline..... there are much better alternatives out there.... bigger planes and you can even bring more weight in your luggage for the same price!
If you decide to fly.... check out the BALD tires on the Sansa Planes while you are waiting for your flight on another airline's plane, of course. We watched a plane (ours LOL) take off with tires that were on the verge of being flat!
Hope and Mike had Nature Air flights (they came on Sansa but booked NA for the return) and they said the same thing ... Nature Air was bigger and nicer.
We were a bit disappointed with Baldi. I did read about the resort-like atmosphere and things along that line, and it did not connect in my head until I got there. It was more like a place with many swimming pools. They were pretty and we were able to see lava from one of the pools at night, but it didn't feel "Costa Rica" or even special. It seemed out of place on our adventure.
The food was dismal. We had a party of 7 and we ate the buffet for dinner. There is awesome food in Costa Rica, and this place just did not have any of it during our stay.But, KC, Ty and I did watch the volcano start its show from one of the pools at the very top. A really nice guy and his wife told us that it was too bad we were all not at Los Lagos because the view from there would be incredible! Boy we were even more excited then ever to hear that!!! We couldn't wait to leave LOL!
The Tree Houses were just what we were looking for and to top it off it was in between our previous destination and our final destination. Perfect!
The structures themselves were pretty cool. We had Tree House #1 which had a porch but it did not wrap around like #3's porch. The tree house is small, but everything somehow fit! The house was about 25 feet off the ground and it also had a second story loft. The house swayed as you walked around it, and more so if you went into the loft. The tree house is not really IN the trees but on long metal posts up WITH the trees (and affixed to one with bolts) The height offers a fabulous view of the tress that are visited by many colorful and exotic tropical birds. I saw my first toucan here :)
The main level offers and enclosed bedroom area that strategically holds one queen size bed (sort of... it seemed a little short), 2 night tables and shelves with a refrigerator and coffee maker. Three glass panels allow viewing of the outside and the small room is cooled with an efficient air conditioner. The door to the toilet and sink is located on one side of the bed and the door to the shower is located on the other. Both rooms are screened in. The water for the shower is somehow heated in the shower head. We will use the term "heated" loosely here. The water is pleasantly warm but never reached a level of hot. If you absolutely must have hot water, or your trip will be ruined... these tree houses are not for you. If you can settle for comfortable - then you will enjoy the tree houses. We fall in the last category. :)
The trees are alive with singing birds and locust that are only drowned out by the passing cars (you can hear the cars on the main road from the tree house) We spent a lot of time on the porch enjoying the nature; playing tic tac toe and hang man! Bring a deck of cards or a travel game!
A ladder is at the foot of the bed that takes you to the second floor loft. Movement in the loft causes noticeable swaying of the structure (Kids will LOVE this!). Although kids would love the loft, I don't think it is appropriate for very young children. The entrance and exit is a hole in the ceiling that very young children would have trouble with and could possible fall down through. Children over the age of 8 would be fine in the loft; any younger, you would need to use your discretion. We would have been uncomfortable with our (just turned) 6 year old up there (although he would have loved it!).
If you are looking for a busting town with lots of night life, Santa Clara is not for you. If you want peace and quite, or if you have a car, you will enjoy this place immensely. The town is pretty quite and boasts a few restaurants, some sodas, a grocery store and a few shops. Not a tourist area at all - we thought this was AWESOME!
We took a cab to Happy Land twice during our 4 night stay. One cab charged us $5 dollars and the other charged us $6 dollars. Happy Land is right next to the grocery store which is also very convenient. Happy Land had great food and the people were so friendly! The restaurant is a local spot, and the ticos were down to earth and loved to chat and try out their English (and help with our Spanish!).Daniel and Marlon "Brando" were hospitable and very welcoming. It seemed that when we showed up the music was put on an American radio station. The 1/4 Kilo Lomo was excellent and the Pechuga Rellena was quickly my husband’s new favorite Tico dish! When the server found out I wanted yucca fries he went next door and bought some and had the cook make them for me! What more could you ask for!
The second restaurant we visited twice during our 4 night stay was a local tico restaurant with a spectacular view called Mapache. ! It was located an easy 5 minute walk from the tree houses. You could see Arenal from the open air restaurant and lots of wildlife. The server brought over binoculars when he saw me straining to see a pair of toucans in the distant tree. The food was excellent and HUGE portions! The view out over the land below was breathtaking. At dusk we noticed bats flying in the high ceiling.... they didn't bother us, in fact, it was pretty cool! Only in Costa Rica !
The hike to the waterfall was pleasant. The waterfalls are 3 separate small pools made out of rock with stairs in each pool. We were disappointed that the pools were filled with debris and the water was not clear because the overflow was blocked with leaves and branches. We ended up not getting in the pools as were were unsure as to what lurked below the rocks and leaves.... yes were were chicken! We did not see any monkeys but we did enjoy playing briefly with the horse! The walk back was uphill (why we didn't notice that on the way down I will never know!) so we were a bit winded, sweaty and tired.
There are no touristy things to do in Santa Clara (other then the waterfall walk from what we could tell). Since we did not have a car we chose the river rafting trip (class 2 and 3 rapids) because the tour van picks guests up at the tree houses. Alex, the guide, was fabulous. We had a wonderful time on the river and saw sloths! Finally! The river trip was a half day excursion and we were both happy we chose the trip! The water was beautiful, the rapids were cool, and Alex was very informative. I highly recommend this trip, especially if you are without a rental car!
Renee and Kelly were wonderful hosts! We enjoyed talking to them and envied their new laid back life! You couldn't meet sweeter people! I am sure we bored them with conversation, but if we did, it did not show on their faces. Fabulously beautiful women! Well done ladies! :)
If you are looking for a cool place to stay without a resorty feel, this is place for you. Peaceful and Beautiful. They may not be luxury accommodations, but they sure are unique, private and comfortable. It was EXACTLY what we wanted!
! I was so looking forward to Peace Lodge and our Honeymoon because of all the wonderful reviews and comments I read....what a total disappointment!!!
Yes the rooms are beautiful. Yes they are over the top impressive upon entering the room but unfortunately for us, it stopped there.
The beautiful and over the top waterfall shower in the room filled with water, seeped under the door and flooded the bathroom in less then 5 minutes! Our luggage was soaked, shoes soaked and half of our clothes. We called the reception desk and told them the drain was clogged and they assured us that someone would take care of it while we were at dinner. I also asked if the jacuzzi would be filled by the time we were done with dinner, to which I was told "yes." It would have been smarter to buy new clothes then to wash them all at the resort ($$$).... so we dried them ourselves in front of the fireplace, in front of the electric heater and out on the laundry room vent.
Ahhh dinner. You are pretty much trapped into eating at their restaurants as there is no where else to go. You have to make a reservation for dinner, which must be their way of justifying the high price for dinner. My husband ordered calamari as his appetizer (BIG MISTAKE)! The calamari was not fresh and tasted off... way off. Unfortunately for me I got suckered into the.... "here taste this...it tastes funny" routine. Well anyone who has had bad seafood knows.... that taste is with you for the rest of the night. Although they took the calamari away (we still paid for it!!!) we had a hard time enjoying dinner.
By now I am freezing. I packed clothes for beach weather - not the rain forest apparently so we went to the gift store to buy a sweatshirt. A $61.99 normal run-of-the-mill black sweatshirt with zipper and hood, but whatever.... it IS Vacation and it does say costa rica on it! :)
The jacuzzi was empty when we returned from dinner so we filled up the jacuzzi on the balcony. It was a bit hard to get comfortable with two people... but we were on our honeymoon so we managed :)
The next day we explored the gardens and checked out the animals. It only took about an hour so we did the waterfall trails. After the hike we decided to get a massage up at the reception area. I got a very deep and intense massage - it was wonderful! The masseuse told me to grab a pina colada and head for the jacuzzi. The jacuzzi was still empty so I called the front desk and I was told it would be filled in "one hour." I decided to get in the warm pool - OMG!! What a shock to the system! That pool was freezing and the cold pool was just a cold. After three hours we asked a staff member that was walking by about the jacuzzi and he said he would have it filled soon.
We ventured down to the Trout Bar for lunch and joked around with the wonderful staff members. They were in tears (from laughter) as I joked about the different ways I asked for the jacuzzi to be filled in Spanish and then questioned why their jacuzzi had water. The punch line was that their jacuzzi at the Trout Bar had water, but the heater was broken! LOL!
My husbands cheeseburger came and much to everyones amusement (punch drunk and giddy I guess) his second bite yields a long white melted plastic straw that was in the cheese. The cook and staff felt horrible.... but at this point all we could do was laugh and order another drink !!!! They quickly replaced the burger and apologized over and over. We laughed it off and told them not to worry about it.
The trout pond was our next destination. My husband wanted to try his hand at catching our dinner. Much to our dismay the trout pond was totally green without an ounce of clarity. Apparently something was wrong with the water system and they were still trying to figure out how they were going to clean it. Even the large windows that allows you a view into the pond (down below) were totally green and fish were barely visible. DH fished anyway and we joked around with Edward (who was just fabulous) about his green swimming pool pond! DH caught a trout and let it go.
We called the front desk about the jacuzzi since this was one of the reasons we picked the room to stay in. Still promises of water to come.
We call it a night.
We awoke at 2:30AM having trouble breathing and rush to the balcony - our room has filled with gas from the fireplace. We have a gas fireplace so my husband was checking it out and it seemed okay. The doors were open and even though the fumes were escaping... there was still gas coming into the room. We called the front desk and did not get an answer. We let it ring for about 20 minutes. We figured the gas was from the upstairs room and called the front desk again. At this point we have headaches and I am nauseas. Finally we got an answer at 3:00 AM. We were asked if the pilot light was on (it was) and then we were told that if the pilot light was on that everything was fine and we could go back to bed!!!! OMG! We spent the night out on the cold, very cold balcony. I slept in the hammock and DH slept at the table sitting in a chair. The last thing we wanted to do was die of carbon monoxide poisoning on our honeymoon.
At 6 AM sharp I went to the reception desk and asked for them to send someone to look at the fireplace in our room and the upstairs room. At this point there was some BS about sulfur from the volcano. I explained that the smell was in our room and coming from the fireplace. He did not seem concerned in the least bit.
The jacuzzi still has no water. I am beginning to hate the jacuzzi and the lack of sleep is making me ornery. We ate the breakfast that was SUPPOSE to be complimentary but was really about 20 bucks a person.
I am annoyed now that the brochure says 24 hour access to the park, but the gates are locked at dark and you really only has access to the road.
I am annoyed that we have to pay 6.00 if we choose to wear the slippers in the room.
I am annoyed that we have to pay $10 dollars to see the frogs at night.
So we go shopping!! LOL!!! We blew through $400 dollars in about an hour buying all kinds of things in the gift shop. Beautiful handmade photo albums for our wedding pictures, handmade frames, jewelry, tee shirts, sauces, Britt stuff, shot glasses, key chains, pottery.... the works!
We walked the property again, but by now it is getting rather boring since we have seen everything over and over. We venture to the snakes and Saralita let DH hold the Boa - a highlight for him.. then I feed the humming birds... a highlight for me.
We decided to eat a late lunch again and forgo dinner so we returned to our favorite spot - the Trout Bar. Walter is just fabulous!!! He found out that the Jacuzzi was broken and was not going to be fixed for another two days.... so we wouldn't be able to use it. We laughed and joked that the hotel tried to snuff us out to keep us quite about the jacuzzi. We ate and then went back to the room and watched movies.
We slept uncomfortably with the fire off and the doors open. Brrrr.
The next day we checked out earlier then we needed to. The manager refused to speak with us. We were told he was too busy (maybe on the phone with the jacuzzi mechanic or fireplace technician?!?) My husband demanded to speak to him, and again we were told he was just too busy. We asked where the owners were and we told they were in Florida . We were offered a 20% discount by the reception guy, still no manager, we took it and left Peace Lodge. A beautiful place with a whole lot of issues.
If you are going to Peace Lodge to experience Costa Rica you are being misled. This would be the Epcot version of Costa Rica . The park staff and the Trout bar staff totally exceeded my expectations as a consumer.... the rest of the place.... left the taste of bad calamari in our mouths.
I wished I had never left Ylang Ylang! My honeymoon was spoiled.... but Costa Rica is still my favorite place in the world and this latest vacation was still the best time I had in my entire life (thanks to Ylang Ylang!)
I would not recommend this place to anyone. Way too many stairs for older people. Stairs, Stairs and more stairs. Definitely not a place for a honeymoon and totally not a nature preserve. Families with kids will not enjoy this place either. People with children were leaving early because there was nothing for them to do. If you like birds, I guess it is a good place to view some in a aviary up close and personal...... but for 300 bucks a night..... you know where I would be.... Ylang Ylang, on the beach...... paradise!