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Reviewed 16 October 2008

We booked our honeymoon here for the end of October, 2008. My wife fell ill and we could not go. (She's okay, just can't travel.) I paid a $150 deposit many months ago. I paid almost $400 for excursions via the contacts there, Agustin and Nina.

Since I canceled only ten days before arrival, according to their cancellation policy, I still owed them about $75 or so. (If you cancel 30 days or more away, you get a full refund.) That's fine, they could have charged my card they had on file.

1. They didn't charge me the extra money.
2. They said the $150 I paid several months ago could be applied to a future visit. (Technically, it should have been forfeited.)
3. They refunded the full $400 that I paid for excursions. (one of which was to a 3rd party hotel that was booked for an overnight excursion. So, they called them and got me my money back.)

And all of this one done with incredible ease. Emails were returned usually within minutes. They did exactly what they said they'd do and even went beyond.

I definitely hope to reschedule and come in the Spring when we are able. I wouldn't dream of trying anywhere else.

  • Stayed: October 2008
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1  Thank sillyrabbitt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 October 2008

Let me begin by saying thank you to Nina (Banana Azul staff member). I could go on and on about her personal attention alone, but that would leave little time or space for my raves about owners Colin and Roberto and their bartender Franklin.

Banana Azul is simply perfect and I will add that Puerto Viejo is also just Wonderful. If you love to completely unwind and still your mind, body and spirit, while feeling completely relaxed, comfortable and at home (a nice home mind you where someone else does all the cooking and cleaning) then you will love Banana Azul.

Banana Azul is the perfect blend between a Great bed and breakfast (but you don't feel uncomfortable like you're in someone else's home) and a Great traditional large hotel chain (e.g., Marriott or the InterContinental, but without all the impersonal trappings of a large hotel chain). This hotel has the best of both worlds. Banana Azul is not a resort per se. Although it sits right on a beautiful unspoiled black sand beach, has a wonderful housekeeping staff, bartender, event planner, and kitchen crew (and soon to come amazing pool). No, it’s not a traditional resort, but it does offer the quiet personal attention of a five star resort, with the local’s stamp of approval for comfort, ease, and affordability.

I must also mention the restaurants in PV. My husband and I are true foodies. As a matter of fact he is an award winning chef and we have travel quite a bit. We have visited the Caribbean on numerous occasions and we pretty much know what to expect as far as food (what local eat, which is our preference) a lot of fish (which we love) and chicken (which we love), beans and rice (which, again we love). But typically the preparation and inspiration leaves a little to be desired.

WE WERE ABSOLUELTY BLOWN AWAY BY THE RESTAURANTS IN PUERTO VIEJO. We visited several and found more than one that served world class cuisine. Our favorite was a somewhat finer dining establishment called Cafe Viejo. My hubby said he liked it almost as much as Mario Batali's place, Del Posto, and he said he'll let me know where it stacks up against Per SE, Thomas Kellers world famous restaurant in New York (I'm taking him for his birthday in February).

We also found this great place called Restaurant La Papaya Loca. It has a great bar scene and also a great restaurant that serves some things not typically found in the Caribbean, like wings, beer battered fish & chips, burgers, vegetarian selections, killer traditional salads, omelets, and ham. Of course they serve things like fish and chicken, but also things like crepes and yuca croquettes and fried plantain-cheese balls. WOW!!! This place is filled with locals and tourist (surprisingly, you will have a time telling them apart. You've got to love that). It sits just across from the beach with an amazing view which makes for some incredible sunsets. The down stairs bar is called Sunset Sports Bar and the bartender Antonio is AWESOME. We made our way to this hot spot a few times to play pool. We missed the pool tournament on Monday nights. They even have foosball table and gambling machines. This may sound a little to American, but trust me it fits right in especially after being away from home for a few weeks. It's what's different in PV and the local flock to it. It's great.

I'll end with this...Our trip to CR was the best vacation we’ve ever had. We visited the pacific side and explored San Jose and we fell I love with the Caribbean side and Banana Azul was a large part why we will return year after year.

  • Stayed: September 2008, travelled solo
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1  Thank SnookaBear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 September 2008

We stayed for 5 nights in mid-late September. As you can see from this site, people have great things to say about the place and they all appear to be true. Couple of highlights of things:

1. People. The owners/staff are great. Very personable. We talked with Colin and Roberto on multiple occasions. You can tell with talking to them about the hotel that they do not want anything negative associated with the hotel. Not just the hotel but the trips that they help organize from their office/website. They really emphasize organizing tours that are safe, secure and reliable. The other staff are also very friendly... Franklin, Augustin, Michele.

2. Rooms are clean and minimal. No TV. No phone. But all of that is for a reason... the noise level would be disruptive with a TV or phone in people's room. It also makes you actually enjoy the location. Did you really come on vacation to watch TV? We spent more time on the balcony, enjoying the ocean. The mattresss is not the most comfortable mattress I have ever slept on but I did sleep well. More of a problem is the bugs. There are a lot of mosquitos and other insects. This is of course not a hotel problem but a region problem. We took DEET and used it often and used a mosquito net but still left with a few bites. Go prepared with a couple of bottles of DEET (get 25% at least)

We would definitely recommend this place. The breakfasts were great (not just cereal and toast but a really good hot breakfast). The dinners were good, especialy for the price. Id saw it's worth having dinner here at least one night as food in Puerto Viejo is not better than this.

  • Stayed: September 2008, travelled as a couple
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Thank timequaker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 September 2008

This place is paradise. That's all there is to it. The hotel is beautiful; the food is fantastic; the beach is gorgeous. I can't say enough good things about it. It's the perfect way to spend a birthday or honeymoon!!

  • Stayed: September 2008, travelled as a couple
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Thank SMHipps
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 September 2008

My girlfriend and I stayed in the Dolphin Suite from august 10 to 18th and the armadillo room from August 20 to 21. Colin, Roberto and their staff were all very friendly and helpful. During the booking process they offered great advice in organizing our schedule and booking our tours.

Location
The hotel is located about a 30 minute walk to Puerto Viejo. We walked into town many times along the beach which was really relaxing. Just don't forget your flash lights as it gets dark pretty early. We never felt unsafe even when we walked back at night.

Room
The Dolphin room is an end unit closest to the road. It was a very nice room with a large deck. the reason why I only gave a rating of 4* is because of the bed. The mattress was fairly cheap and uncomfortable, the bed sheets were of poor quality and would come off at night. In the Armadillo room the center support of the bed was actually broken so the bed sagged and made lots of noise. Since the rooms are pretty much open air since we slept with the doors open you really needed mosquito netting which the armadillo room didn't have. If they provided better matresses and mosquito nets in every room I'd have no problems giving Banana Azul 5*. Also there were geckos in the room but that is to be expected in the tropics.

Food
We mainly ate in Puerto Viejo but we did eat at Banana Azul for 3 nights. Cost ranges from $12 to $14 tip included. Dinners were simple but tasty and was good value for the money. Breakfast was fresh fruit, cereal and yogurt.

Staff
Colin, Roberto and their staff were all very friendly and helpful. From the planning process, booking the trip and the service while we were there it was excellent. The bartender makes a good mojito!.

Tours and Activies
Sloth Tour - We took a cab to the sloth sanctuary. For $15 each we got to watch a sloth video, a talk from the founder's son, a tour of the adult sloths where we got to pet them and finally a session with the baby sloths. It was feeding time so we got to watch the little guys eat and even got a chance to pet and feed them. Took some pictures of Buttercup and hit the gift shop. The gift shop was really expensive but we still bought a few things as it's a donation to feed the little guys! It was definitely worth it to visit the sanctuary.

Cahuita park - After the sloth sanctuary we went to Cahuita Park. Did a 4 hour hike along the trail and saw lots of wild life. Howler monkeys, 6 sloths, a coati, leaf cutter ants, geckos, butterflies, hermit crabs etc. Very hot in the jungle but well worth it!

Pacuare River-
We travelled to Puerto Viejo from La Fortuna via White water. We rafted the Pacuare River and it was a great time. The river itself wasn't all that exciting since it's only a class 3 river but it was still a lot of fun. Very pretty scenery going through the national park and the gorge. For $90 we got transportation to Puerto Viejo, breakfast and lunch. Found out afterwards if we booked it directly with the rafting company and paid cash we would have gotten 10% off. Well worth the time and money!

Dolphin Tour
For $100 we got a round trip taxi trip from Banana Azul to Manzanillo where we boarded a boat with our captain Sherman. We were the only ones in the boat and there was no other boats on the ocean at the time we went which was great. We had about 25 dolphins to ourselves. They were so close we could touch them. After we got our fill of dolphins we went snorkelling on the reefs. I'm a Scuba diver and been diving to many places so the snorkelling to me was unremarkable. Well worth the time and money.

Chocolate Girl
We visited the Bri Bri girl at her house to see how chocolate was traditionally made. The tour itself only costs $2 per person and she gave a demonstration of how chocolate was made and her garden where she grows cacao, ginger, vanilla etc. We bought some chocolate as well. The taxi ride was a bit expensive but it was interesting.

Canopy Tour.
the Canopy tour was $50 and quite fun. About 14 platforms and cables.

Surfing.
We did a 2 hour surf lesson for $40 each.

Colin and Roberto run a great hotel. Very reasonable rates, very clean and a great location. There are plenty of things to do in and around Puerto Viejo. I would recommend Banana Azul to anyone that wants a laid back and relaxed vacation. Keep in mind this is not a 5* resort. If they could get better mattresses, linens and a mosquito net in each room it would be perfect.

James

  • Stayed: August 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank JHC10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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