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Trip List by connecticuttraveler6

La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica

12 Dec 2010  Frequent visitors to Costa Rica take on new challenge
4.5 of 5 bubbles based on 3 votes

For people trying to create their own itinerary for accommodations for the mountain bike race LA RUTA

  • 1. Costa Rica
    Costa Rica, Central America

    We are familiar visitors to Costa Rica – this would be our 6th trip (see my general travelers list for more information). We had a different challenge this time, though. My husband would be racing in the staged mountain bike race, La Ruta de los Conquistadores, which starts in Jaco and ends in Limon. Since I would be traveling with him, instead of staying at the designated hotels organized by La Ruta, we wanted to make our own plans to stay at quiet, comfortable inns or B&B’s along the route. We were able to accomplish this with the help of Trip Advisor! If you follow these ideas, it is also best to hire a driver, unless you are very comfortable navigating the roads yourself, which I am not.

  • 2. El Paso de las Lapas
    Hotel Pumilio, Jaco, Province of Puntarenas

    In Jaco, we liked to reviews for El Paso de las Lapas. This 10 room boutique hotel is on a quiet, rural dirt road only five minutes outside of Jaco. We had a car, which made it very convenient as well, although from reading other reviews, it sounds like the hotel management will pay for taxi rides to town, which is a huge plus. We stayed here 2 nights before the start of the race. It was the perfect choice. The setting was very tranquil. We were on the 2nd floor in the far corner, so we had a lovely view of fields to our right, and in front we overlooked a small river (muddy now after torrential rains in the preceding weeks) and lovely hillside. The pool was pristine and relaxing. The room was spacious, with two queen beds and a day bed. In many ways it was a basic hotel room, but nicely decorated and comfortable. A nice touch was a basket of snacks with a welcome note. A sliding door opened onto a lovely balcony with a patio chair and tables and a full kitchen with a stocked mini-bar. Breakfast was served at the covered, outdoor dining area by the pool, and included eggs, gallo pinto (rice and beans), fruits, cereal and toast, orange juice and coffee – and I may be forgetting something. A few downsides to mention – no other meals are served, so you will need to go into Jaco or elsewhere for other meals (which was fine, as we had a car and it was so close). The beds were rather hard, as other reviewers have mentioned. Also, while we were there the hot water didn’t seem to be working. I hate to even mention it, since we also never bothered to ask the management about it – it just wasn’t a big deal for us. I would definitely go back to El Paso de las Lapas, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a tranquil location along a busy coastline.

  • 3. Casa Bella Rita Boutique Bed & Breakfast
    Casa Bella Rita Boutique Bed & Breakfast, Santa Ana, San Jose Metro

    On Day One of La Ruta, the race ended at the Quality Inn in Santa Ana, to the west of San Jose. Through TripAdvisor, and with the help of Google Maps, I found Casa Bella Rita, which was literally only a 5 minute drive (10 with traffic) from the race finish (and the start of Day Two). Distance was important, since the race started at 6:00 AM each day. My only disappointment was that we could only stay for a very short time. Casa Bella Rita is a large home in a residential neighborhood just off the road from Santa Ana to Ciudad Colon. We entered into a lovely garden area, followed by the kitchen and downstairs living area and patio. The patio looks out onto the Virilla River – a breathtaking canyon. We stayed in the Canopy Room on the 3rd floor. The bed was hands down the most comfortable bed I have slept in while traveling anywhere. The room was spacious, with a sofa and table, and a futon on a raised platform in a corner nook (good if you are traveling as a family). Everything about the house was luscious – the bright colors of the main rooms, the eclectic bathroom decorations, the open living spaces available to guests. Rita and Steve made us feel instantly at home. We used her blender to make recovery protein shakes, and for $5.00 a load she did laundry so my husband could wear his favorite bike clothes on Day Two as well. At Rita’s suggestion (really insistence!) she found him a masseur who came to the house at 9:00 at night and gave my husband a fantastic massage, which really helped for the next day’s race. We had a great casado dinner at Meme’s across the main road. Warning to other bikers: the seats are all wooden stools, so if you have posterior pain you may want to go elsewhere! Rita was up at 4:30 in the morning as we were getting ready to leave. After dropping my husband off at the race start, I came back to pack up and leave. I had very little time for breakfast, but Rita made sure I had a delicious bowl of granola with bananas and strawberries, OJ, coffee and some toast to go. Seeing the spread of fruits and eggs on the kitchen island made me jealous that I couldn’t stay longer.

  • 4. Hotel Milvia
    Hotel Milvia, San Jose, San Jose Metro

    Day Two ended at the Terra Mall in Tres Rios, to the east of San Jose. Finding accommodations here was a little trickier. We opted for Hotel Milvia in San Pedro, which was a short drive away (15 minutes). Hotel Milvia is a lovely old house, with a beautiful courtyard and interesting art displays. The management was lovely. They have a massage room right on the premises, and the manager set up appointments for us with Maria, who did a great job, on very short notice. The rooms at Hotel Milvia are large, but very basic. The beds are OK, but not particularly comfortable, the bathroom is functional. The major downside for us was the nighttime noise, since the room’s window was along the road, so we were kept up by both vehicle and pedestrian noise. I don’t know if they have rooms that open onto a courtyard, but it is worth asking. Hotel Milvia is not a luxury hotel destination, but it works if you seek something a little more unique, convenient and affordable.

  • 5. Hacienda Tayutic

    Day Three ended in Turrialba. Since Turrialba does not have nay large hotels, when we tried to find space, most of the places we were familiar with were already booked (such as Casa Turire and Turrialtico Lodge). Through TripAdvisor, we located Hacienda Tayutic. It was more money than we really wanted to spend (especially since we would be in and out in such a hurry) but proximity to the race was also important. The most disappointing part was that even with a confirmed reservation, as we approached our arrival we were told that something came up, they no longer had room for us, and we would be staying at another place, Casa Jardin, which handled the Hacienda’s “overflow”. Casa Jardin was nearby in Pavones, and although it did not have the sweeping views or setting of Hacienda Tayutic, it was lovely in its own way. It is the family summer residence, the main family farm being further towards the coast. I must say that the owners were very nice and accommodating and did whatever they could to make our short stay enjoyable. We were originally booked in the guest cottage. The cottage was vintage – with big windows, beautiful wood floors – very spacious with a huge bathroom that had both a large, open shower and a claw foot tub. There was a last minute malfunction that could not have been anticipated in any way – the owners quickly regrouped, and moved us to the main house’s master suite, which was, as you would expect, very comfortable. Dinner was included in our package as a consolation for not staying at the Hacienda. It was served buffet style, and was delicious – absolutely perfect as a pre-race meal, with rice, beans, tuna with lime, pasta with a very light, homemade tomato sauce, carrots and green beans, salad, bread. For dessert they gave us a plate of plaintains with cheese. Just when we thought we were done, we were served plates of fresh fruit with ice cream. Breakfast was equally delicious, which at least I was able to eat. We hope to return someday and actually stay at Hacienda Tayutic.

  • 6. Hotel Banana Azul
    Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Province of Limon

    The race ended in Limon, which is not a great destination for a continued stay, so we looked for something else. Somehow we ended an hour further south, which I don’t necessarily recommend. Our initial accommodations at Hotel Buganvillea Resort were a huge disappointment (see my full review separate from this List). We went on TripAdvisor and got on the phone early the next morning to find something else. Our first choice was Hotel Banana Azul, just north of Puerto Viejo. They did not have any rooms available, but did have an arrangement for rental homes, and the Magic Moon Beach House was open for the next two nights. Our stay was a very rainy stay, but enjoyable nonetheless. The house was a few hundred yards away from Hotel Banana Azul on the same road. The main house was on the 2nd floor (we had access to the 1st floor apartment, but really didn’t need it – the house is really meant for a larger group). On the second level there were 2 bedrooms, a modern kitchen, a small living area with a day bed, a small bathroom and a large deck overlooking the road and the ocean beyond. It was a casual house, clean enough for a beach house (and anyone who is familiar with beach houses, they tend to take a beating). We had access to all the facilities at Banana Azul and were able to run a tab there (although we had to pay cash for the house). The meals were delicious, served on a covered patio that extended from the front desk, and had sitting areas followed by dining table all the way to the bar. The first night’s dinner was fajita night, served buffet style, along with a large salad. The second night we had a choice of two entrees – also very good. There is a larger lunch menu. There is a lovely pool adjacent to the patio, and it is a very short walk to the black sand beach. We could rent bikes for $6 per day, so we rode into town and did some tourist shopping. They set out bug spray and sunscreen for guests to use free of charge. We also had access to umbrellas, which came in very handy for our walk to and from the house. We did not see any of the rooms at the Hotel, so I can’t comment on that. The staff was generally very friendly, although could be a little short-tempered at the bar when it got busy.