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Reviewed 30 December 2020

If you are lucky enough to visit Costa Rica and the Arenal area, there is no better place to stay than Nayara Gardens, and the fact that it is a Relais & Chateaux property only makes it that much better. If you are willing to splurge, opt for Nayara Springs, which is located in the same area, along with their version of glamping at Nayara Tented Camp.

Yes, you will pay an arm and a leg to stay at this exclusive rainforest locale, but it will be worth every penny.

At the writing of this review, guests at Nayara Gardens would check-in at Nayara Springs, which is closer to the Casita Deluxe rooms rather than the Rainforest Villas. From the security checkpoint, you are transported into a lush and tropical environment befitting of a five-star establishment. After an obligatory hand sanitizer visit, you are whisked into a rather cozy lobby area. This area was small but was nicely decked out in holiday decor and had a number of comfortable seating areas.

I was a bit surprised with the check-in process. Kener did a good job explaining the property and most of its amenities, although we soon realized that his comments and the accompanying map were outdated. For one, La Terraza was not open for lunch, although the map listed it as a place for lunch and dinner. We were invited to sit at a table as Kener explained all of the details. We all wore face masks but there was no sense of social distancing. Yes, there was a bottle of hand sanitizer and disposable face masks available, but I don't believe that was the right approach, especially since contactless check-in has become the norm during the COVID-19 situation.

After meeting in the lobby, we were taken via club car to our Casitas #12 and #13. This service was complimentary and helpful to avoid walking up inclines from the reception building to any of the Casitas or Rainforest Villas. We were given a brief tour of Casita #13 by our club car attendant, and then left to our own devices.

Both rooms were mirror images of each other, aside from the king and single beds. We were a bit surprised and disappointed that the housekeeping services were inconsistent, something that I will explain later.

Each spacious room included a comfortable bed or beds, with firm mattress, ample pillows, embroidered throw pillows, and mosquito netting; a sitting bench at the edge of the bed; adequate night stands with bottles of hand sanitizer, flashlight, and media docking station; a small side table with telephone, fruit basket (4 different types of fruit), and bottle of what appeared to be tap water; as well as a decent-sized TV set.

The fine wood-thatched roof, dark hardwood floors, pale yellow-painted walls, and tiled bathroom area were very pleasing touches. The rather large balcony had a soaking tub with curtain for privacy, two lime-colored cushioned deck chairs, a hammock, and views of Arenal volcano and all of the greenery that made this hotel special.

The bathroom wasn't entirely separated from the room, although it had double vanities, double bottles of liquid soap, a rather boring set of toiletries, again a bottle of tap water marked Safe to Drink, and a very good selection of towels. On the left side of the vanity area, there was a separated toilet with view to the outside, open-air shower, and on the right, there was a roomy indoor shower area with larger bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash. This indoor shower led to the outside shower area with the same bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, all surrounded by flourishing and thriving flora. We didn't use the outside shower but it was a nice touch.

On the opposite side of the vanity, there was some shelving, more than adequate closet space, and a minibar and coffee/tea area. Note that there was a charge for minibar items. It was nice to see insect repellent (you will need it!) as well as slippers to keep the creepy crawlies at bay.

As for the inconsistent housekeeping services, my room (Casita #12) had the better housekeeper, since this individual truly provided turndown services, including laying out slippers, adding two bottles of tap water on the nightstands, as well as placing sweet treats with accompanying descriptions. I may add that we left a tip for his/her good work, but the housekeeper only left it tucked under the media docking station. In contrast, in my parents' room (Casita #13), there was no evidence of the aforementioned turndown services and yet the tip left was quickly pocketed. I think the hotel needs to do a better job with attention to detail, and if guests book more than one room, there should be some consistency in what services are provided on a daily basis.

Final note about the rooms...IT RAINS A LOT IN ARENAL, but don't believe the weather forecast since it rains everyday in spurts. Not total washouts but be prepared to get soaked many times throughout your stay and visit. There are umbrellas outside your room as well as in the reception areas and restaurants. They are large enough to withstand the heavy downpours that are bound to happen!

Do spend some time exploring the property and everything it has to offer, including its restaurants and bars (Mis Amores, Amor Loco, La Terraza, Asia Luna, Nostalgia Wine Bar, Mi Cafecito Espresso Bar, Kali-Kali Swim-Up Bar), pools, spa, gym, gift shop, walking trails, and fish pond. We had breakfast at Mis Amores and Amor Loco, although we preferred the location of Mis Amores more, had dinner at Amor Loco, strolled through the Armadillo Trail (within Nayara Springs), and found the fish pond and all of the exotic plants very delightful.

Service was generally very spot-on and reliable. Restaurant staff were consistently inviting, friendly, and professional, and seemed to really care. Most of the other staff you encounter on the grounds were also very down-to-earth and aimed to please, aside from a few who were emotionless on their club cars. I appreciate the staff standing outside the Nayara Springs reception area. They engaged with us and other guests and really got to know each party, dispensed sound advice, and wished everyone well. Some criticism is directed at the reception staff, especially since Kener mentioned that they would be available 24/7. We called at 9:30pm on one night, and then again at 10:00pm, but no one answered. We wanted to make reservations at Amor Loco but couldn't. We had to wait until 9:00pm to dine there, when we really wanted to dine much earlier. Note: During COVID-19 and corresponding hotel capacity limits, you will need to make reservations for everything, maybe not lunch, but definitely dinner as well as coffee and wine tastings. On our check-out day, we wanted someone to come take our luggage to the reception for our ride to San Jose Airport (SJO), but once again, we called at 7:30am and waited for a while, but no one picked up. We had to take our 7 bags down all by ourselves!

All in all, staying at Nayara was an experience for the ages, especially if you like to be pampered and treated like royalty. You get bang for your buck but service can be improved a bit and there needs to be an re-evaluation of public health measures since hands-on check-ins and free coffee on tap in the reception area are not appropriate during this public health crisis.

Room tip: Eat the complimentary breakfast at Mis Amores, not Amor Loco
Date of stay: December 2020
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
2  Thank littlepiggydc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NayaraResorts Management, Owner at Nayara Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 8 January 2021

Dear littlepiggydc,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write such a thorough and detailed review of our resort. Your comments provide invaluable insight into your Nayara experience, and we will use them for additional training and modifications where needed. Please know how much we enjoyed hosting your family, and we certainly hope we can welcome you back soon for more pampering and royal treatment!

Pura Vida!
Jairo Quesada
Resident Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 December 2020 via mobile

Really a breathtaking resort with impeccable service. They take care of all your needs and are incredibly friendly.

And the thermal pools are a real treat.

The location is a lush, jungle hillside.
The casitas and rainforest villas are etched into the hillside with walkways between them. U don’t need to go anywhere for site seeing as the hotel has birds, sloths, monkeys, and an amazing array of plants and trees. But it’s the service and attention to detail that set it apart.

Date of stay: December 2020
Trip type: Travelled with family
1  Thank GungaDinVan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NayaraResorts Management, Owner at Nayara Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 8 January 2021

Dear GungaDinVan,

Thank you very much for your five-star review of our resort. We were so happy to read how much you enjoyed your stay - especially our impeccable service and unrevivaled location. Hopefully, we can welcome you back very soon for much more time in our thermal pools. Happy New Year from our entire team!

Pura Vida!
Jairo Quesada
Resident Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 March 2020

This is a superb hotel and, with all the good things that we could say about it, the service was outstanding. Every single person was friendly, remembered our names, you could have a laugh/joke with as well as looking after our every need. There were several instances where they went out of their way to help (eg, one of the receptionists offered to get a friend to mend my shoe). The resort itself is very attractive with several good dining options (you can use the facilities of the next door Springs resort). Would not hesitate to recommend this hotel.

Date of stay: March 2020
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Rachel186342
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 March 2020

I would rate more than 5 if possible. This place is very unique, it has been the highlight of our 3 week road trip in Costa Rica.

From the arrival to departure it has been more than perfect. We stayed in a casita deluxe (2 adults and 2 kids 3&5) and it has been amazing. From the friendly and very helpful staff to the breakfast, activities, etc... it has always been beyond our expectations. We knew this place was great but still we were amazed how great it was, as in reality it was even more perfect !

The pool was perfect, we most of the time had the pool for ourselves, surroundings are super well kept. Our room was beautiful with a large terrace and a Jacuzzi :-) with the view on the jungle.

Wildlife is everywhere and staff is always helping to spot sloths or other animal.

The food was delicious, breakfast was a huge buffet where we could find everything possible, large choice for the kids as well.

We had a car and the valet parking service was very efficient, they were even providing water for our days out.

The terms further up in the Tented Camp are magical :-)

We spent 5 nights at Nayara but we would easily have stayed longer ! they are so many activities you can do around Arenal area, you cannot get bored.

Finally I cannot recommend this place enough, if staying in the area, Nayara is definitely the place to stay.

Thank you so much for all the good memories, hope to be back some day.

Date of stay: February 2020
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
3  Thank valerie253
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 March 2020

There's not much point in repeating all the superlatives that other people have mentioned but yes, Nayara is excellent by any resort standard including the Four Seasons. To summarize:
Service: I can't imagine how difficult it is to have hundreds of people working everyday and have them all be extremely helpful and genuine but they do it here. The staff to guest ratio is VERY high and the guest density is comfortably low. This creates the serenity and quiet vibe at this resort and that alone makes it special. Your never competing with another guest for anything. Multiple concierges waiting at any time for instance. Every person cheerful and happy to help. In fact this is the single thing that separates this resort from others. Even at capacity you feel like there are only a few guest sharing the property. Perfect.

Date of stay: March 2020
1  Thank Paradise31068807811
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nayara_Hotels, Manager at Nayara Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 25 March 2020

Dear Paradise31068807811,

Thank you very much for your kind remarks about our resort but most importantly, our incredible staff. While our flora and fauna make our property exquisite, we believe our team is what makes the guest experience extraordinary. Again, we thank you for your kind words and hope to welcome you back to our beautiful country very soon!

Pura Vida!
Jairo Quesada
Resident Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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