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“Incredible Experience at Leaves and Lizards”

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Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Durham, North Carolina
Level Contributor
59 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Incredible Experience at Leaves and Lizards”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 July 2012

We just returned home on Sunday, July 1st from 16 days in Costa Rica. We started our trip at the Leaves and Lizards and found it a great experience for our introduction to this beatiful country. We traveled with 3 generations (my parents, my husband and I, our two girls (18 and 11) and our 11 year old niece). We chose not to rent a car for much our our Costa Rica trip as we were traveling to 4 different locations. When we arrived at the Leaves and Lizards, they were a little surprised that we did not have a rental car as we stayed in the Hummingbird Hacienda which is the furthest hacienda from the dining and reception areas. Deb and Steve were so helpful and accomidating to us that first night by helping us get to and from our hacienda. The 1st evening after a weary day of travel was spent eating a wonderful meal in the open air dining hall. The staff were very attentive and the food was great! Deb helped us by arranging for ziplining for the men and kids the next day. They did the Mundo ziplining, and according to them, the hike up to the zip line is not for the faint of heart!!!

During our stay at Leaves and Lizards, my niece became very ill with a bad case of strep throat. Deb and Steve arranged for a driver to take us/her to a doctor in La Fortuna. They called ahead to let them know we were coming. When she wasn't much better the next day, Steve took her and my mom to the doctor again as he needed to go to town himself. Deb also had the ladies make some special chicken soup to help her closed up throat. We could tell that Deb and Steve really care about their guests.

We met so many nice folks during our stay and found the meal times entertaining as we realized what a small world it was when my parents met folks born in their home town and that attended some of the same schools. We also got great travel advice from those who were ending their Costa Rican trip as we were just starting on ours.

There are so many memories for us: The wonderful view of Arenal from our back porch at the Hummingbird Hacienda, the hikes to and from meals up and down the gravel road, the horseback riding adventure through the rainy "rainforest" with the foals running by our sides, the river trip with Darren and finding the baby sloth on the last day and watching Steve "play" with it.

Deb and Steve have done a tremendous amount for the community there. We enjoyed the staff, especially Dora in the mornings, we miss her infectious smile. We certainly plan to stay at the Leaves and Lizards again. This time, we will rent a car :)

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank kapatch67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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630 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (162)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Arlington, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 June 2012

We stayed at Leaves and Lizards for 3 days and I would highly recommend this place for families, newlyweds, and anyone who enjoys nature and great food. We experienced hikes thru the rain forest, up into the canopy across hanging bridges, and a horseback ride to a private waterfall,where we swam and ate lunch. The guides, Enrique and Roberto , were superb, and pointed out wildlife that we might have otherwise missed. Hosts Deb and Steve were really helpful and will help you make any arrangements you wish for activities. Our stay in the Monkey Cabin was relaxing and fun: waking up with a picture window view of Arenal Volcano every morning is not to be missed! Hope to return someday...

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank pama332
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 June 2012

Our hosts, Steve & Debbie, did a great job. Oscar, the GM and nature walk guide, was wonderful. The setting, and views from the Coco and (more so) Congo cabins were to die for. The food was above average. Dora, one of our hostesses and servers in the dining room in the morning was truly a gem. My 2 year old hit it off with her, and many of the other members of the staff.

Leo, a 3rd-party tour guide with whom they do business, particularly for the Canyo Negro boat and wildlife tour was maybe the best tour guide I've had on any continent - including his personality, likeability, incredible knowledge (both common and scientific), and mastery of English as his second language.

There are hundreds of commenters here who have, and will continue to extoll the virtues of this place - and you should take heed. I am giving this place the first "average" rating out of the hundreds of other comments because (a) it will not impact the overall incredibly high score, (b) we had some genuine complaints and difficulties, and (c) it just might get your attention.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, note that this is clearly a retreat, not a resort. Getting to and from cabins, dining room, reception, barn... requires you to have a rental car (we didn't), or to do a little hike in the hot and humid Costa Rican environment. Most of the time we didn't mind this a bit, but of course we needed to consider it those times and others. The hike is on a dirt road, but believe it or not, with many loose stones and grade/angle, was still challenging. We all turned an ankle at least once. If you're looking to be pampered, the Nayara Arenal was wonderful.

Our cabin had lots and lots of insects - all the time. They put a floral arrangement on the table in each room. I wish it had occurred to me on the first day, not the last, that the bugs really enjoyed this arrangement. There was a line of insects coming and going day and night. My wife needed to bring her laptop to do a little overflow work, sadly. She put it on the table, and later on the bench, it was full of little white mite looking insects (sugar ants, is how my stepmother, also on the trip, referred to them.) You're in nature, and they do not exterminate, so be prepared.

There was a wasp nest right outside of our deck door. On the first night we asked our hosts to remove it. The next day/evening it was still there. They informed us someone had looked at it, but whatever course of action they took, it was not removed. So the second night we asked them to remove it, which wouldn't be done until Day 3 (our last full day). Afternoon 3, when we return from out tremendous, aforementioned Canyo Negro tour, the next had been removed. Hurray! All of the (non-aggressive) black wasps remained on the roof of our deck, just outside the door. This made me anxious every time we (especially my toddler) went in and out, and prevented me from using the hammock (immediately underneath) for the entire trip.

The cabins do not have air conditioning, as previously mentioned. That's part of the deal - no problem, just be prepared. The rooms do not have phones - this was quite frustrating as whenever we had issues (like those wasps, or not knowing where to meet our transportation) we couldn't reach anyone without the somewhat challenging hike to the reception area (instead we just worked around the issues). I'm in the habit of using wifi when traveling abroad, paired with Skype on my cell phone, to make phone calls when needed. They do have WiFi, as reported, but it did not work in our cabin - which was closest to the WiFi antenna atop the dining area. They recommended we try our porch - which I did, while dodging wasps, but couldn't get my cell phone, Kindle Fire, or iPad to connect (can you tell I'm a gadget nut?) I really didn't have a strong desire to be online accept as a means of reaching our hosts, or a daily email download to make sure my home or business wasn't on fire. My wife was able to occasionally connect her laptop when in one specific corner of the deck, closest to the dining room.

In the end, we were on edge about the insects for much of our stay, and when we didn't have pre-planned activities (with transportation!) we felt a little trapped. Had we a rental car, I'm not sure exactly where we'd have gone - "downtown" La Fortuna gets old after 10 minutes, and most of our activities required (or benefited from) a local guide.

SUMMARY: Hosts were great, tour guides and other staff amazing. View incredible. Rooms comfortable and reasonably appointed, save for the insects. Insects were major, major detraction as we couldn't get comfortable. Rental car and local cell phone would be beneficial. Plan on wanting daily tours. Newly added, but in summary anyway, the farmhouse was nice - my son enjoyed milking cows and collecting eggs. Farmers/Staff/Ranch Hands were great.

Room Tip: If you have two couples/families, look at the Hummingbird cabin - it was booked when we were there...
See more room tips
  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank JasoninChicago
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
, Owner at Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat, responded to this review, 23 June 2012
We certainly appreciate the comments of this reviewer. Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat is not the right choice for everyone. We are a retreat not a resort. We have created an atmosphere that facilitates people getting back in touch with nature, getting off the grid, unplugging, walking and interacting with their surroundings. When guests come through travel agents versus doing their own research, often they are not the right fit. Our website and email correspondence with prospective guests clearly defines the type of facility we are. We are not the right place for people with infants/toddlers or people that have mobility issues. We have good WiFi in the restaurant, all the cabins do not have the best reception. We unplug the WiFi system during lightening storms to protect the equipment. In reference to the insects; this is a tropical rainforest environment there are going to be encounters with insects. We did take note of the issue with the small wasp nest being constructed by non-aggressive wasps on the porch of the cabin. These wasps move about several times a year, the tiny nest was high up, about 25 ft, in the eave of the roof. We are sorry that it caused distress to them as well as the ants coming out of the flower arrangement. Pura Vida.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
48 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 June 2012

We stayed here as part of our Costa Rica Honeymoon.
The bungalow we stayed in had a comfy bed.
We did two tours with them, a tour of a river by kayaking. Also, we did a cooking class with a local.
both were top notch.
food was excellent.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Ken M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
Level Contributor
14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 June 2012

Leaves and Lizards is an authentic Costa Rican experience! Cabins are beautiful and perched upon a hillside with sweeping views of Arenal Volcano. The staff is top-knotch and wil bend over backwards to make your stay perfect. The hosts, Deb and Steve, are warm and helpful and will visit with each guest during dinner to plan your next day's schedule. We were fortunate to be on site when momma pig was in labor. My husband and I worked alongside Steve to help birth and clean two of the ten piglets while a thunder storm raged around us. Incredible experience. Children will enjoy the barn animals and doing morning chores. The food in the on-site restaurant is exceptional, and really is farm to table fresh. You will not find a pool or jacuzzi here, but you will find beautiful flowers, birds, sloths, and more! The Hot Springs Resort is a close drive and perfect for a soak. Recommend a hike on Arenal, kayaking with Paul,float trip to Cano Negro with Enrique, walking the Hanging Bridges, visiting the wildlife rescue park, and the horseback riding! We stayed in Coco. Each room has a microwave, fridge, and coffee maker, so stock up in Fortuna on snacks and cold beverages. We had a lot of rain in early June, but the thunder storms and lightening were amazing! Bring books to read on your porch hammock. Perfect for couples and families.

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank CaliforniaJane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat

Property: Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
Address: Meters South Of Super Kiki 500, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 21012, Costa Rica
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Green Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Romantic Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Family Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#8 Business Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price range (per night): ₹ 17,438 - ₹ 17,568
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This secluded resort is located on 26 acres with spectacular viewing of the Arenal Volcano near La Fortuna. Enjoy the panoramic vista of Arenal and Cerro Chato from a hammock on your porch or from your comfortable, orthopedic, queen sized beds with Egyptian cotton sheets. Meals prepared using locally grown ingredients at the Lava Lizard on-site dining facility. Guests are invited to help with daily 'chores' on this working farm. Milk a cow, collect eggs for breakfast or groom a horse. Enjoy private horseback riding, professional guide service, on site spa and 2 km of on site nature trails. The vision at Leaves and Lizards is to create the perfect blend of adventure, discovery and tranquility for each guest. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Leaves And Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Leaves And Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat Costa Rica/La Fortuna De San Carlos

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