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Arenal Springs Resort and Spa 3.5

La Fortuna/Arenal, Costa Rica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Spacious, attractive rooms, all with outdoor space and volcano views
  • Free breakfast buffet
  • Room amenities include coffeemakers, AC, cable TVs, and individual driveways
  • Minibars with two free waters, Coca-Colas, and Imperial beers, plus mini liquor bottles in Master Suites
  • Master suite with King has stone-lined hot tub in the main room
  • Swim-up wet bar in the hot spring, with attached sushi restaurant
  • Spa includes an outdoor massage and treatment area
  • Large yoga deck
  • An Italian restaurant and an international restaurant, both with volcano views
  • Hotel is committed to eco-consciousness, and recycles cooking oil for biofuel
  • Good central location between La Fortuna and Arenal National Park and dam
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Not a place to soak in local culture; feels almost like a suburban planned community
  • Rooms can get morning noise from cleaning staff
  • The free Wi-Fi doesn't reach many rooms (those closer to the main building have best chance)
  • Rooms are spread out and ground are not well lit at night (golf cart rides available)

Bottom Line

The 90-room, upper-middle-range hotel popular with the tour bus crowd appeals to a wide range of international tourists, though is a bit lacking in authentic Costa Rican flavor. Attractive rooms all have terraces with volcano views, and Master Suites include large rock-lined hot tubs inside. The hotel is centrally located between La Fortuna and the entrance to Arenal National Park, though the hotel's explicit mission is to give guests as little reason to want to leave the property as possible. Given the range of features -- hot springs with a swim-up bar, multiple restaurants, a spa -- many guests do choose to stay put. It may also be worth considering Hotel El Silencio del Campo, which has extra-hot hot springs and a bit more local character.  

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Scene

Like a Levittown of tropical comfort, Arenal Springs feels like a self-contained, planned community.

Arenal Springs looks like a planned community in some tropical suburb -- each room has its own driveway, and the bungalows are laid out in straight lines like a Edenic Levittown. The guests run the gamut from young couples looking for romance to Costa Rican families to busloads of older tourists from Europe. They're all dressed to relax, and can be seen in casual wear and bathing suits, migrating back and forth from the restaurants to the hot pool and its swim-up wet bar. Though the peaked, vaulted roofs on both the bungalows and the main buildings are a nice touch, the aesthetic is strictly tropical-international, and the real beauty comes from the lush (but strictly maintained) greenery and plant life dotting the property at regular intervals.

Location

Between La Fortuna and Arenal National Park and the dam, Arenal Springs is well-situated for folks who might want a day trip in either direction -- but many choose to stay on the property.

The hotel is a 10-minute drive north of La Fortuna, making for an easy getaway for travelers who want easy access the town's adventure outfitters and restaurants. It's about a 25- to 35-minute drive to Arenal National Park in the other direction, the other major destination in the area. Travelers with their own transportation will find it all incredibly convenient for day trips -- there's a driveway in front of each room -- but folks who come to Arenal Springs tend to spend most of their time on the property in any case.

Rooms

Attractive, modern rooms with rustic details and lots of light; amenities include free minibars, and Master Suites have indoor, rock-lined hot tubs. 

Sharing sturdy, clay-colored bungalows with peaked roofs, rooms are attractive with lots of light (both natural and artificial). Decor includes tile floors and vaulted ceilings with partial or full wood beams, paintings of local fauna (frogs, hummingbirds), and a green and brown palette that reflects the colors of the rainforest. Bathrooms are large and well-lit and ventilated, and include fragrant soaps and lotions the hotel makes itself. Another eco-conscious detail is the lighting system; lights are turned on with room keys (and go off automatically when guests leave the room -- good for the environment, but a bit annoying for those hoping to use the digital clocks). Rooms are either Junior Suites with a king or two queen beds, or Master Suites, which include two bedrooms that can be booked separately, one with a king and one with two queens (the king room has the rock-lined hot tub). Bathrooms in these units have jetted tubs.  

All rooms have terraces or patios with volcano views, AC, cable TVs, and minibars with free libations -- two Imperial beers, Cokes, and bottles of water in the Junior Suites, plus mini liquor bottles in the Master Suites. Though the rooms are spread out across the property, they're all within a five-minute walk or so of the main building and features -- though at night when the grounds are dark that can still feel a bit far to some, and golf cart rides are available. Room blocks also have driveways for those renting a car. The higher the room number, the farther it is from reception, and many guests recommend staying as close to the main building as possible for a better chance at connecting to the free Wi-Fi. 

Features

The property is centered around the hot-spring pool, with an artificial waterfall, swim-up wet bar, and attached sushi restaurant, but prides itself on its eco-friendly practices.

The heart of Arenal Springs is its hot-spring pool, which has an artificial waterfall with sitting ledge to let the falling waters massage your scalp and shoulder; a large, U-shaped swim-up wet bar with boulders as stools; and an attached sushi restaurant. There are also pools on a couple levels above the main spring, allowing for varying views and degrees of privacy. The soul of Arenal Springs, however, is its mission to respect the environment (of personal importance for the owner, who hails from La Fortuna). The golf carts and minibuses run on biofuel recycled from the property's restaurants; the soaps and fragrant bath products in the bathrooms are made by the hotel itself; and the hotel uses a greenhouse to grow herbs used in its restaurants. On a lighter note, there's also a mini-volcano in the Italian restaurant that offers you an opportunity to see an eruption of some sort even if the real thing's been dormant for years. (No one could figure out how to turn it on on our visit, however.) There's also an international restaurant where the free extensive breakfast buffet is offered. 

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Address

5 Miles West of Catholic Church of la Fortuna, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Province of Alajuela, Costa Rica

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