FODOR'S CHOICE: COSTA RICA HOTELS: By - 2007 Fodors.com
FODOR'S CHOICE 2007 - OUR TOP PICKS FOR WHERE TO STAY Monteverde Lodge: The well-established Costa Rica Expeditions operates this long-time favorite close to Santa Elena. Rooms have vaulted ceilings, bathtubs -- an amenity rarely seen here -- and great views. A table abuts the angled bay window overlooking the 15 acres of grounds, a perfect place to have a cup of coffee and bird-watch from indoors. The restaurant and bar congregate around an enormous but cozy lobby fireplace. Relax in the whirlpool tub in the enormous solarium, a perfect place to unwind after a day of tromping through the reserves. Or take in the evening slide presentation, showcasing cloud-forest life.Back to top
INSIDER PICKS - MONTEVERDE LODGE & GARDENS: By Concierge.com - 2007 Travel & Leisure
"This secluded 27-room eco-lodge, a ten-minute drive from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, has rustic charm, with rough-hewn ceiling beams and a circular fireplace in the bar and reception. But the focus is on what's outside. The huge 14-person hot tub off the lobby is inside a glass atrium (solar-heated on sunny days), and there are triangular bay windows in the 24 standard rooms, all geared to get a good look at the forest's tropical birds. The gardens are exceptional, with many species of hummingbird hovering around. For a total escape, there's also a recently renovated garden cabin with the same rustic charm as the lodge. If you tire of the tranquility, it's only a ten-minute walk to Santa Elena, the nearest town, for dinner. There's also the on-site Garden Restaurant—a charming option with a wood-beamed ceiling, serving international cuisine (corn chowder, beef tenderloin in red-wine reduction, or pan-grilled red snapper)."Back to top
FROMMERS COSTA RICA 2007: By Eliot Greenspan - 2007 Frommer's
"Operated by Costa Rica Expeditions, the Monteverde Lodge was one of the first ecolodges in Monteverde, and it remains one of the most popular. It's located 5km (3 miles) from the reserve entrance in a secluded setting near Santa Elena. Guest rooms are large and comfortable, and thanks to a recent remodeling are some of the best in town. Most feature angled walls of glass with chairs and a table placed so that avid bird-watchers can do a bit of birding without leaving their rooms. The gardens and secondary forest surrounding the lodge have some gentle groomed trails and are also home to quite a few species of birds. Perhaps the lodge's most popular attraction is the large hot tub in a big atrium garden just off the lobby.
The hotel's dining room offers great views, good food, and excellent formal service provided by bow-tied waiters. The adjacent bar is a popular gathering spot, and there are regular evening slide shows focusing on the cloud forest. Scheduled bus service to and from San José is available ($40 each way), as is a shuttle to the reserve ($6 each way), horseback riding, and a variety of optional tours. The excellent guides here have lots of experience with family groups."
Facilities: Restaurant; bar; Jacuzzi; tour desk; laundry service
Source: Frommer's Costa Rica 2006
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NEW KEY TO COSTA RICA: By Beatrice Blake and Anne Becher - 2001 Tortuga Lodge is on 125 acres of forested spit, two kilometers from the village across the canal from the airstrip. Tortuga Lodge was the first nature lodge in this area. Architecturally, it has expanded in a tasteful, harmonious way, and maintains its tradition of excellent service. A new riverside dinning room adds special tone to the atmosphere. (Pg. 247)
Monteverde Lodge is located on a road to the right at the entrance to Santa Elena. The lodge, built especially to accommodate tour groups from Costa Rica Expeditions, is spacious, beautifully designed, and comfortable. It features an indoor atrium with a large Jacuzzi. The grounds include a botanical garden. A multimedia slide show incorporating sounds of the rainforest is shown several times a week. (Pg. 294)Back to top
FROMMER'S COSTA RICA '99: By Eliot Greenspan - 1999
Costa Rica Expeditions: Run by native New Yorker Michael Kaye, who has lived in Costa Rica for nearly three decades now, this is without a doubt (and widely acknowledged to be) the finest tour company in the country. In business since 1978 and originally a river rafting outfit, (whitewater raft trips are still a part of many itineraries), Costa Rica Expeditions offers a huge variety of packages, with groups from as small as three or four people to no more than 18-20. Many groups have fewer than 10 people.
Specializing in nature and adventure travel tours, the guides (and many of the bus drivers, too!) are all experts in Costa Rican flora and fauna, and are extremely adept at helping you spot birds, reptiles, exotic plants, and arboreal critters high up above you in the trees. The company operates three of the finest properties in the country: Tortuga Lodge in Tortuguero, Monteverde Lodge near the Monteverde Cloud Forest, and Corcovado Lodge Tent Camp in southwestern Costa Rica. This last lodge is the most rustic of the three and requires you to hike in a ways from the nearby airstrip. More details about each of these accommodations can be found in each respective destination chapter later in this book. Whether you decide to go on one of their many tours, if you are in any of these three places, do yourself a favor—try and book accommodations in one of their fabulous lodges." (Pg. 5)
Monteverde Lodge: Operated by Costa Rica Expeditions, the Monteverde Lodge is one of the most upscale hotels in Monteverde. It’s located 3 miles (5km) from the preserve entrance in a secluded setting near Santa Elena. Guest rooms are large and comfortable and have angled walls of glass with chairs and a table placed so that avid bird-watchers can do a bit of birding without leaving their rooms. The gardens and secondary forest surrounding the lodge now have some gentle groomed trails and are also home to quite a few species of birds. This lodge’s most popular feature is a large hot tub in a big atrium garden just off the lobby. After hiking all day, you can soak your bones under the stars. Scheduled bus service to and from San Jose is available ($45 each way), as is a shuttle to the preserve ($6 each way), horseback riding, and a variety of optional tours.
The hotel’s dining room offers great views, good Tico and international food, and excellent formal service provided by bow-tied waiters. The bar adjacent to the dining room is a very popular gathering spot. There are regular evening slide shows focusing on the cloud forest. (Pg. 234-235)
Tortuga Lodge: This is Costa Rica Expeditions’ oldest hotel, but thanks to several years of renovations and additions, it's not only aged well, but improved with time. The nicest feature here is the long multi-level deck, where you can sit and dine, sip a cool tropical drink, or just take in the view as the water laps against the docks at your feet. There’s also a new pool, built to create the illusion that it blends into Tortuguero’s main canal. All the rooms are considered standards, with one double and one single bed, ceiling fans, and a comfortable private bathroom. I’d opt for the second-floor rooms, which feature varnished wood walls and floors and come with a small covered veranda. Despite the high rates (considerably higher than at other area lodgings), the rooms are not substantially larger or more luxurious than those at the Mawamba, Laguna, or Pachira lodges; what you’re paying for is all the years of experience that Costa Rica Expeditions brings to Tortuguero. Service is generally quite good, as are the meals.
Dining: The meals are much more creative than those you’ll find at other lodges in Tortuguero. Although served family style, they go far beyond the typical rice and beans that usually define meals in the region. They include homemade bread and special treats, such as cold fresh-seafood salad.
Amenities: In addition to the small pool, there are several acres of forest behind the lodge, and a few kilometers of trails wind their way through the trees. This is a great place to look for Howler Monkeys and colorful Poison Arrow Frogs. (Pg. 322)
Costa Rica Expeditions offers everything from 10-day tours covering the whole country, to 3-day/2-night and 2-day/1-night tours of Monteverde Biological Cloud forest Preserve, Tortuguero National Park, and Corcovado National Park, where they run their own lodges. They also offer 1- to 2-day whitewater rafting trips and other excursions. All excursions include transportation, meals, and lodging. Their tours are some of the most expensive in the country, but they are the most consistently reliable outfitter as well (and their customer service is excellent). (Pg. 71)
COSTA RICA POCKET GUIDE: By Berlitz - 1st Edition, Nov. 1998
Tortuga Lodge: Probably the most luxurious accommodations and best food in Tortuguero. Run by Costa Rica Expeditions, who bring a lot of experience and professionalism to the operation. Canal tour boats use environment- and manatee-friendly electric motors. 24 rooms. Major credit cards. (Pg. 131)
Monteverde Lodge: An upscale hotel surrounded by groomed gardens and cloud forest, with overview of the valley below. Close to both Santa Elena and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Rooms are comfortable, with large windows that let nature in. A large Jacuzzi near the lobby lets hikers soak out their aches and pains. Wheelchairs access. 27 rooms. Major credit cards. (Pg. 136) ...Sunsets and views of the surrounding forest are excellent from the dining room here. There’s a small nightly selection of Costa Rican and Continental dishes on the menu, all of them tasty. Whether or not you are staying here, reservations are recommended. Major credit cards." (Pg. 143)
MOON: COSTA RICA HANDBOOK 1999: By Christopher P. Baker - 3rd Edition, Jan. 1999 Avalon Publications Excerpt from Costa Rica Handbook
Costa Rica Expeditions:
Pioneers in natural history and adventure travel in Costa Rica, and one of the finest companies. Specializes in natural history trips, white water rafting, special interest activities, and customized tours. It has a complete range of tour packages to destinations throughout the country, including from its acclaimed Monteverde Lodge, Tortuga Lodge and Corcovado Tent Camp. Also car rentals, guide recruitment, etc. It has received several Ecotourism awards from Conde Nast Traveler. Top notch guides. Highly recommended! (Pg. 745).
Tortuga Lodge: The most appealing place is Tortuga Lodge, owned and operated by Costa Rica Expeditions. The lodge, which sits directly opposite the airstrip four km north of town, includes park visits in its room rate. It has 24 spacious and comfortable riverfront rooms surrounded by 20 hectares of landscaped grounds and forest. The wharf is a preferred spot for watching fishing bats that swoop and scoop in the wharf lights, and a short (albeit muddy) circular nature trail that leads from the gardens offers good sightings of poison-arrow frogs and other wildlife. You almost expect Tarzan and Jane to swing down from the trees and meet you at the dock. Standard and "deluxe" rooms (each with ceiling fans plus fully equipped bathrooms) are in handsome lodges made of hardwoods and fronted by wide verandahs with leather rocking chairs. Each has comfy beds, huge screened windows, and plenty of hot water. A recent upgrade has added an upscale restaurant serving excellent meals family style (outside on the verandah when it is not raining), and a swimming pool and water garden are planned. English-speaking staff and superb guides are under assured management. Rain ponchos are provided for boat tours. Tortuga is the only fishing lodge in Tortuguero.
The lodge also offers hikes up Cerro Tortuguero, turtle walks, and boat transfers to Tortuguero village, Barra del Colorado and Matina or Moin. Both world-record snook and tarpon have been taken a short distance from Tortuga Lodge, and a former lodge manager, Eduardo Silva, holds the world’s cubera snapper record. Highly recommended. (Pg. 374)
Monteverde Lodge: The modern Monteverde Lodge is the most outstanding hotel and also a good bargain. A cavernous entrance foyer leads up to a spacious and elegant open-plan dining room with a soaring beamed ceiling, and a cozy bar with leather chairs from Sarchi around a open hearth, which has a log fire blazing at night. Chessboards and backgammon are at hand. The bar looks down on a large Jacuzzi (open 24 hours) enclosed by a glass atrium that complements the redbrick and timber lodge. Wraparound windows offer wonderful views over the landscaped grounds and forested valley. Rooms are spacious and elegant, with large windows, two double beds, and well-lit bathrooms stocked with fluffy towels. Snacks are served in the bar at 5p.m. Smoking is allowed in the bar and a designated smoking wing only The lodge, which is set amid beautifully landscaped gardens, is operated by Costa Rica Expeditions and is very popular with birding and nature groups. Transportation to the Cloud Forest Preserve is offered with notice. Cuisine is superb. Recommended. (Pg. 472)
LONELY PLANET COSTA RICA: By Carolina Miranda - 6th Edition, Nov. 2004 Lonely Planet Publishing Excerpts from Costa Rica Lonely Planet 1997 Tour Companies -
The oldest (since 1978) and biggest nature/adventure-tour company is Costa Rica Expeditions. It pioneered adventure and nature tourism in Costa Rica and has received awards for both its work and its environmental awareness, including honorable mentions in the Conde Nast Traveler Ecotourism Awards in 1995 and 1996. The top guides are well-qualified naturalists or ornithologists – all the staff is very professional and the company is highly recommended. It specializes in natural history tours, particularly to Parque Nacional Tortuguero and Reserva Biologica Monteverde (where it has its own luxurious lodges), and Parque Nacional Corcovado (where it has a tent camp and a rainforest canopy platform). It also does river rafting (it is the oldest rafting company in Costa Rica), and other trips. The standard of services is excellent (their motto is "legendary service… unforgettable memories"), and the trips are priced accordingly. (Pg. 106)
River Running -
Rivers tumbling from the central mountains down to the coast afford good whitewater rafting possibilities, and several tour operators provide rafts, paddles, life jackets, helmets, and guides for these adventures. One-day trips include roundtrip bus transportation from San Jose and lunch. These start around US $69 per person. Multiday trips can also be arranged. Most river running companies offer kayak rental or at least provide information on it, and sometimes you can accompany a rafting trip in a kayak if you have the requisite experience. Thousands of tourists enjoy running a river each year, and the vast majority have a memorable and enjoyable adventure.
However, river-running companies are not regulated in Costa Rica, so, for your own safety, go with an outfitter with experienced guides. Most guides are not well paid and do it for fun. Some companies use guides with no rescue or emergency medical training and relatively little experience. The more experienced and ethical guides are pushing for internationally acceptable minimum standards and training for all professional guides, but this had yet to happen at this writing. Single and multiday river trips are offered by Costa Rica Expeditions which is the oldest and best-known company. (Pg. 72, 201)
The Tortuga Lodge & Gardens was the first comfortable lodge built in the area and remains the most comfortable place to stay, with superior rooms (spacious screened, cross-ventilated, large bathrooms with hot showers, and fans) rocking chairs and hammocks in covered walkways outside all the rooms, an airy bar-restaurant built on the riverside, with verandah dining next to the water, and an adjoining swimming pool. A solar energy system is used here, which is one of the reasons that the lodge has been recognized with ecotourism awards from Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. Other reasons include the fact that the lodge supports the local community through sustainable development, hires locals, and supports local conservation projects. The food is plentiful, served family style, includes plenty of vegetables and local specialties, and is very well prepared. The staff and guides are helpful and well trained and many speak English.
The lodge is on 20 hectares of attractively landscaped gardens with ornamental tropical trees, palms, shrubs, orchids, and other flowers that attract birds, lizards, and butterflies. The tropical rainforest begins beyond the gardens, and a troop of howler monkeys is usually heard near the lodge (they were visible from some guest rooms when I visited recently). Red and black poison-arrow frogs are found in the forest behind the lodge. Costa Rica Expeditions owns the Tortuga Lodge, has the best-trained guides, and is well recommended... (Pg. 378-379)
TheMonteverde Lodge & Gardens is 5 kms from the reserve and is the most upscale hotel in the Monteverde area. A progressive recycling policy, a solar energy system, and a procedure whereby sheets and towels are changed on guest request (just as at home), rather than every day, are noteworthy environmentally sound aspects of this upscale hotel. The rooms are larger than most and have picture windows with garden or forest views. Apart from a smoking wing, most guest rooms and the restaurant have a non-smoking policy. The large lobby is graces by a huge fireplace and, adjoining the lobby, a huge solar-powered but nice and hot Jacuzzi allows up to 15 guests to soak away the stresses of hiking step and muddy trails. The grounds are attractively landscaped with a variety of native plants, and a short trail leads to a bluff with an observation platform. The bluff is at the height of the forest canopy, with good view of the forest and river ravine... Reservations should be made with lodge owner/operator, Costa Rica Expeditions. Complete guided tours that include transportation, meals, and accommodations are also available) for example, three days/two nights from San Jose, including a half day at the Monteverde reserve, costs US$439 per person, double occupancy). (Pg. 225)Back to top
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