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Reviewed 18 January 2011

The first problem was with the owner Phillipe and his promise that we would be booked into Casita 11 B. When we got there, a mad shuffle ensued because it turned out that the room was already booked. The staff knew nothing about the promise, and thankfully we pulled up our emails to show them. MY CONCERN is if Phillipe does this all the time and when tourists get there---voila---you're stuck.
I had to fight to get comped breakfast for their mistake, which should have been theirs to offer in the first place. Switch-and-bait ensued. We were told "All the rooms are the same." LIE NUMBER TWO. These units appear to be privately owned and outfitted which leaves a gross divergence of quality. We were first booked into room 2 A, which was the second unit off the beach. AWFUL! sagging couch, icky linen, mouse droppings/or lizard every day. Cockroaches the size of my hand running in the unit. Not even a sponge to do the dishes in the kitchen. Toilet that never worked right. DISGUSTING! And that was at $190 a night! Then we were switched to until 11 B after two days and I felt like I died and went to heaven. Fully outfitted for our needs and modern, lovely decor right at the beach as we expected to pay for.
Several other problems: where to register isn't marked. We had to walk around and around the pool to try and find where to go. Of course, with our BOOKING PROBLEM, welcoming was out of the question and poorly handled. Nothing explained to us about the services, tours, or location.
I felt sorry for the reception staff. They were lovely, but caught between their boss and us.
If you decide to stay here, please be aware that the units are grossly different, and request to see several if you end up in a similar situation. If you can't get 11 A or 11 B? I wouldn't stay here. So do I give this a thumbs up or down? Perhaps in the middle.

  • Stayed: January 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank dawnp53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 2011

Our group of five friends spent New Year's Eve at Villas Playa Samara and couldn't have had a better time. The hotel grounds are beautiful with the perfect balance of natural beauty and human intervention. Each morning one in our group took a nature walk around the grounds and saw all kinds of birds and animals including parrots and iguanas. The beach is literally just outside your porch. We wiled away hours hanging out in the hammocks on our porch taking it easy.

The staff is super friendly and helpful. They went out of their way to make our visit comfortable.

If make a trip around the holidays, be sure to check out Torros a la Tica in Samara. It was unlike anything we had ever done. Also, the tours in Samara were great. The vibe of Wingnuts canopy tours was great: small scale, sustainable, a lot different than the somewhat assembly line tours we have been on in Monteverde.

  • Stayed: January 2011, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Michael J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 December 2010

This was my second trip to Playa Samara. Last year we stayed in town; this year we opted to stay at Villas Playa Samara, which is about 3km south of the actual town of Samara. It seems like there are quite a few reviews for Villas Playa Samara that either loved the resort or strongly disliked it. I would say that I fell right in the middle; the community could be very nice with some additional maintenance and improvements.

Our cabin had a separate bathroom, full kitchen, living area, and a small patio with a hammock and an ocean view. The design was spacious. However, immediately a few minor problems stood out. There seemed to be a slightly noxious odor coming up from the kitchen sink. The tile around the sink was broken and hadn't been repaired. The aerator in the bathroom's sink sprayed water all over the counter top when I washed my hands. And, as others have posted, the sheets and towels need to be replaced. I don't expect exotic Egyptian cotton linens or plush towels, but they were worse than I've ever had in any hostel. That's fine in an inexpensive hostel, but Villas Playa Samara is slightly more expensive than a dorm room in Guatemala.

If you decide to stay here, my biggest piece of advice is to rent a car. This gives you the freedom to drive into Samara for meals and to stock up on groceries in town. The resort's hotel was average albeit pricey for what you get. Most nights there were only a few couples dining, which leads me to wonder how a surprisingly large menu could feature so many types of *fresh* food.

The other benefit of having a car is being able to drive to Playa Carrillo. Villas Playa Samara has a nice beach, but it is not nearly as scenic as Carrillo, which is only a few minutes drive to the south.

The pool was great. I'd say that it was perhaps the best part of Villas Playa Samara. The staff were all friendly and helpful, as well.

In short, Villas Playa Samara has the pieces in place to be a very good resort. However, I couldn't get past the feeling that it had fallen into a bit of disrepair over the years. For what it costs to stay there, you could stay at much nicer places in Samara or Carrillo.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank sbollig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 December 2010

This place is isolated, but very romantic. Laura and her staff are extremely friendly, helpful, and went out of their way to make us feel special. The cabin was modest, but the maids had towel animals and fresh flowers everyday, and what do you really need when you can go to sleep listening to the waves and wake up to animal sounds. The restaurant has very good food. The pool and bar are also very good. The massages on the beach are fantastic! Town is an adventure to get to; via the beach during low tide and car or taxi at high tide. The town does have numerous trips and tours you can take. Do recommend you have books, as there is only a TV at the bar and no radios in the cabins.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Happybackpacker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 September 2010

Hotel Villas Playa Samara

My girlfriend and I first came to Hotel Villas Playa Samara mid-July on a weekend trip to Playa Samara. We were staying in Tamarindo and were pretty unhappy with the town and our lodgings so we decided on a weekend. Tamarindo's a nice place but it's got nothing on Playa Samara -- and much of what Samara Beach has to offer centers around this magnificent hotel.

We never really planned to stay so long. We came for just a 3-night stay and ended up planting ourselves for MUCH longer than we ever planned. Costa Rica was on our travel list for a long time. We went there Here are all of the details...

To find Hotel Villas Playa Samara, you have to head out of "el centro" a bit on a direct road towards Playa Carillo. The hotel pops up out of nowhere like a beacon in the night with its ominous walls and very pleasant gated-entrance area. I'm not really sure if the gates are necessary in terms of safety but it sure looks nice and makes it very clear that the hotel stands out from the crowd.

When we arrived the first time, we had zero plans and zero bookings. Thank God! Unfortunately, the rankings on TripAdvisor for the Playa Samara area were grossly misleading at the time of our travels. Some of the hotels ranking high at the time (who knows where it is now) were really not that impressive. Neither my girlfriend nor myself can still figure out to this day why hotels like Esperanza or Leyenda were at the very top. Sure, these places seem nice but they're very much out of the way and not really that impressive.

I'm pretty convinced now that this hotel is more popular with local Costa Ricans than with foreign travelers. Hopefully my review will help to change that!

When you pull into the expansive grounds of Hotel Villas Playa Samara, the first thing you notice is the serene and picturesque setting. Since it's outside of the main town area, this hotel enjoys spectacular views in a nice remote-like setting. But don't worry.... it gets better.

After you check-in at the guarded entrance, you pull in on the dirt road and park just in the front. When you get out of your car, you'll first see the HUGE pool and the restaurant off to the right-hand side. The reception can be a bit hard to find, but just ask one of the many roaming staff members and they'll point you in the right direction.

Our check-in experience was simply.... wonderful!

Keep in mind -- we had NO reservations and no prior contact with this hotel. We walked into reception and were immediately greeted by a staff member (Faride, a very nice girl). Although her English was not perfect, she did her very best and was exceptionally nice. She walked us out to see an available villa -- #11-A.

This is far and away one of the best (of not THE best) villa in the joint. Set RIGHT on the beach, you literally fall asleep every night and wake up each morning to the sound of waves crashing near your doorstep. Marvelous! Maybe we lucked out because it was available. If you can, request 11-A ahead of time when you make reservations.

Inside the villa, the decor was tasteful and very nice without being "too Tico" or "too Gringo." Our villa was also fully equipped with a kitchen, full-size refirgerator, stove (no oven), microwave, toaster, coffee pot, cooking utensils, eating utensils, and basically everything you need for daily living. Since we're more the long-term traveler types, this was EXACTLY what we needed. But even for more short-term travelers this is a very nice addition -- and the price is well worth it. Cook some of your own food and save a little cash on your trip!

Outside our villa we also had our own little private patio with a very good hammock. Both of us spent many hours relaxing on the patio, reading books, working on projects, painting, and sharing the tranquil views of Samara Beach. In all seriousness, the feeling you get here is like having your very own private beach. And the beach here is clean, quiet, and perfect for getting out in the water.

Another amazing feature of this hotel is the on-site market. While not exactly a huge supermarket of US standards, this little mini-shop offers much more than you'd typically find at a hotel shop and at very fair prices. Everything from drinks, waters, and snacks to full-on grocery fare of breads, cereals, pasta, sauces, meats, frozen items, and even produce. We took many walks over to our own little "residence market" and enjoyed the staff who worked there. Our absolute favorite was Melania, a friendly and fun-loving girl who laughed and joked with us every time we went to buy our little treats and goodies for making dinner or just relaxing in the hammock. She's a real treasure, and so are so many of the other staff members at the hotel -- Alejandro, Faride, Randall, Laura, and even the very nice girls in the restaurant.

Speaking of the restaurant, the food there is definitely worth your time too. If you get tired of cooking in your villa (or just don't want to), there are lots of special offerings in the on-site restaurant that will impress you. My personal favorites from the Main Menu (lunch & dinner) are the Filet Mignon, the T-Bone Steak, and the Chicken Cordon Bleu. I also really liked the Chicken Strips and Club Sandwich from the Snack Menu. Also, be sure to try their Hamburgers -- seriously, some of the best I've ever had. I know this doesn't sound like typical Costa Rican food, but you can get a lot of that everywhere else in Costa Rica and even in the main town at Samara Beach. They also have menu offerings at the hotel that fall more into the local cuisine (or comidas tipicas). We really loved the Ceviche!

When you get tired of eating, there's lots to do at the hotel too. The entertainment room has a big screen tv and two gaming centers (Xbox and Wii), plus a billiards table and an air hockey table. These things do cost money but the prices are reasonable.

And let's not forget the pool...

We spent a lot of our time in Samara just relaxing and soaking up the sun. The pool at Hotel Villas Playa Samara is one of the very best places to do exactly that. Frankly, it's one of the biggest hotel pools I've ever encountered and is clean and fun to use. The shallow end is large and stretches all the way across the pool, perfect for lap-swimming and really getting exercise. They also have a nice volleyball net for playing games with groups in the pool too.

The activities director, Randall, often pops some fun music on in the mornings to liven things up which makes for a great vibe with everyone in the pool and some enjoying drinks at the swim-up bar. We took salsa lessons with Randall and some other guests and had a blast!

As I look back on all of this, I realize that this place may very well be one of the best hotels I've ever stayed at. It's not a typical hotel by any means but perfect for Costa Rica. And there's so much value! I can' imagine getting a better experience anywhere else in Playa Samara, let alone all of Costa Rica. Hotel Villas Playa Samara gets my highest recommendation!

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank HavePointsWeTravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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