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Reviewed 12 December 2019

I just spent 5 days at this place over the Thanksgiving holiday week and saw a handful of couples and travelers over the time I was at this jungle lodge. When I read some of the negative reviews I wonder what kind of experience these travelers were looking for because I can tell you that what I was looking for in a vacation/holiday was exactly what Laguna Vista was able to provide and was one of the most magical places I have visited in Central America.

First, the kind of vacation/holiday I was looking for was a jungle lodge that was close to Corcovado National Park, activities from the lodge that could fill up a few days and that was fairly affordable. Through online research we decided on LagunaVista Villas and that we would fly into Puerto Jimenez from San Jose, although many of the other travelers who stayed at the lodge had rented car on drove down the coast to get there. The road as many reviewers have stated is not paved and is a dirt road but for me that is a positive that feeds into the adventure of getting to the lodge and being on vacation/holiday.

LagunaVista offered fishing and kayaking in the lagoon in front of the lodge, hiking tours in Corcovado National Park and a multitude of other activities in which you could do and get picked up from the Lodge like turtle watching at night or horseback riding. We decided on the Corcovado Day hike, a day fishing in the Lagoon (which our fish that we caught was cooked up that night by the chef), a day horseback riding to a waterfall that we repelled down and a day to just be lazy to sit by the pool and catch some sun.

The LagunaVista staff only speaks spanish (what do you expect in Central America?) but they are all very, very nice. There was a english speaking guy there, Daniel, who was volunteering there through WorkAway and also was a very, very nice guy. The only issue during our stay was sometimes orders for food from us to Daniel, then Daniel to the staff, may have been lost in translation. Like for example, during breakfast you may have wanted a egg over medium with bacon and you get an omelette with ham instead. :-) LOL. Not a big deal as that omelette with ham was just as good as the eggs and bacon would have been but then we just started ordering the food directly with the staff (since we spoke spanish) and everything was fine.

We did prepay our activities and prepay our room which got us an "upgraded" room. The room was amazing with a small wading pool and an amazing bathroom. The bathroom was open but I wouldn't characterize it as outdoor. In fact, I loved showering every morning and being able to look out at the jungle and ocean. The room had 2 king sized beds, a hammock on the patio, wading pool and a couple of porch chairs. The beds were comfortable enough and there was NO AC but what do you need AC for on a perfect night when you can just open the doors and feel the ocean breeze. There was a ceiling fan which provided enough air movement for it to be very, very comfortable with end of November weather.

And I think Greg, although he wasn't here, was honest and understanding. We didn't do one of the activities we prepaid and he credited us that back on our bill when you closed out. Overall, this place provided the most amazing views of sunrises and sunsets with access to a plethora of activities to enjoy all of Corcovado National Park and the Osa Penninsula as long as you have the proper expectations.

I will be back!!!!

Thanks to the LagunaVista Staff for making this vacation/holiday..... Pura Vida!!!

Date of stay: November 2019
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Ryan K
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 14 November 2019

The only reason we booked LagunaVista Villas was because it had good reviews on trip advisor, yet our experience cannot be more different from “5.0 Excellent” as the page suggested. It’s only fair we tell the other side of the story and hopefully prevent others from experiencing the same frustration whilst on holiday. And before I start, almost all of the negative points I raise below is relating to the owner Greg and Greg only, this does not extent to the rest of the staff.
• Watch-out for the pay cash for a room upgrade deal- my boyfriend (who booked the room) received a “welcome pack” from the owner prior to our arrival. Among many other dos and don’ts in the pack, Greg mentioned if the payment was settled in cash upon arrival, we will receive an upgraded room. We kept that in mind and tried our best to withdraw cash once we reached Puerto Jimenez (which is the last village you we see with a cash machine before you hit the dirt road for a 1.5 hrs drive) To have enough money to pay for the 3-nights we’ve booked for, we would have to withdraw a large sum of money, which was not possible due to the cash machine withdraw limit. We withdraw when we can and made clear to the staff that we were not able to pay for the room in full as we had hope to, the staff suggested paying by card instead and we were shown our room. We made clear to the staff we don’t have enough cash, we were offered to pay by card, we took whatever room shown to us and thought nothing of it, until the next day…

• Accusation of violating the “contract” and demanded to pay for the “upgraded” room- comes next day and we received an e-mail from Greg accusing us for not fulfilling our part of the contract (by paying cash) and was asked to pay the difference incurred by staying in the “upgraded room”. We had a few e-mail back and forth with Greg and tried to explain our situation to him, we’ve never asked to be put up in the upgraded room and were happy to take up the room we originally booked for given we had to pay by card. Soon we discovered that actually, Greg is less interested in which room we stayed in but it’s how we pay for it. In short, he is using the room upgrade as a front to really pressure us to pay for the “card transaction fees” merchant should bear. He referred the fee as his “lost” repeatedly. I can understand if the hotel was fully booked and he turned down other paid customers for the upgraded room to accommodate us, but that was not the case, it was low season the hotel was nearly empty, the so called upgraded room was free anyways. The upgrade was just a way for him to ask us to cover his costs of taking card payment

• Aggressive and unprofessional behaviour from the owner- Greg was not present when we stayed therefor our correspondence with him was via e-mail initially, yet as situation escalated we asked to speak to him over the phone for the ease of communication as no staff onsite can really speak English. Greg was initially upset about the fact that we asked him to give their onsite staff/ lobby a ring to reach us, referring it to “that’s not how you ask for things in where he grew up (New Zealand)”, we were puzzled by the remark as the only reason we asked him to call his own staff/ lobby is that we don’t have his number and we have mobile no signal in the wild! Throughout the call Greg avoided speaking about facts, taking rational points onboard, instead when explained again why we don’t have enough cash upon check-in, his respond was “everyone carry cash around, it’s your own fault to not prepare enough cash to pay for the room before you arrived it Puerto Jimenez” (the amount is more than $500). When we mentioned it was impossible to communicate such complicated issue with their onsite staff as they don’t speak English, his response was “ do you know how many people in the world speaks Spanish? Isn’t part the reason visiting this country is to be able to speak the language?” No, I’m sorry we can speak English, French, even Mandarin if you like at a very fluent/native level, sorry if that’s not covering enough people on this planet and that we can’t communicate with your staff, but I’m the one paying here and you are the one running the hotel. If you can’t speak the world’s language? It’s not my fault, English is also not our native language, but we still make the effort. This is the excuse the owner seemed to use regularly as you can even find a similar review response here when someone pointed out the communication issue

To sum this up, it’s the most stressful hotel experience I had, and having spoken to Greg, I’m bracing myself for further aggressive replies the owner is bound to add. Just check the way he reply to all the negative reviews on here and you will get a glimpse.

Date of stay: August 2019
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank janicel587
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed 16 September 2019

Laguna Vista Villas was wonderful, from the clean and very private villas/decks to the incredibly great food (and they cooked vegetarian masterpieces just for me!) to the relaxed atmosphere, exciting kayak trip at dawn on the crocodile lagoon, highly knowledgeable guided 6hr hike into Corcovado Na Forest - and I'm a biologist so appreciated that the native guide knew the tree names in Spanish, Latin, English and who knows what else - and he knew the healing qualities, not to mention pointing out all the amazing birds, monkeys, bats, other mammals, and spiders - very special. Then there's the Infinity Pool to melt into and never want to leave, the large tree out front of the dining area with the nesting macaws and visits by passing monkeys. Happy Hour couldn't have been happier, and the owner, Greg, is very kind, present, humorous, helpful and happy as is All of his staff. We even helped with an endangered turtle release:) I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Room tip: I checked out all the rooms, next I'd take the one closest to the noisy macaws with the private outdoor little pool
Date of stay: January 2019
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Travel8Happy
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
kegrob, Owner at LagunaVista Villas, responded to this reviewResponded 25 September 2019

Thank you so much for your positive review, Jeanne. It really helps to know some of our guests appreciate our lodge. Really don't know what else to add, except to say that we all hope you will come back and visit us again some day. Please make it sooner rather than later if you can, ok?

All the best, and thanks again!

Greg & all the Staff @ LagunaVista Villas

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 September 2019

No AC, Bed felt more like a box springs than a mattress, the road had 5 water crossings, & outdoor bathrooms!

We booked 3 nights. We got the heck out of there ASAP.

It would be charitable to call the road a gravel road. Because of the huge craters in the road, you WILL ONLY AVG 20 KPH! THAT IS APPROX 13MPH! AND THATS NOT THE WORST OF IT, THE ROAD HAD 5 WATER CROSSINGS. WE RENTED A 4 WHEEL DRIVE NISSAN CROSSOVER. IF WE DIDNT RENT A 4 WHEEL DRIVE WE WOULD HAVE GOT STUCK IN AT LEAST 2 OF THE WATER CROSSINGS FOR SURE. There are 3 streams you have to cross where the water is 3 feed deep, and two mini rivers where the water is about the same but the water is moving faster. It was downright scary. If we would have noticed a decent hotel in Port Jiminez where the cratered gravel road starts, we would have gone back at the first water crossing. That's the only reason we kept going on this dangerous "road". Btw, it is marked as a highway on google maps.

So when you get there, or IFYOU GET THERE, you need to be prepared for no AC.
Keep in mind Greg charges $200 for this place.
No AC, an outdoor bathroom (to be fair, it is not a shared bathroom, but it is outdoors. Keep in mind there is a jungle around you, so when you turn on the light to go to the bathroom at night, moths, bugs etc are going to join you. My GF was petrified to use it at night, and even I was hoping a bat wasn't going to join me..
When we got there we were offered to join them for dinner. Keep in mind the whole area has no electricity so obviously there is no other restaurants around. We were offered what we thought to be the special of the night, chicken, vegetables, and rice, with a salad. I asked if there was seafood, the response was maybe tomorrow, but they do have chicken, vegetables and rice. We went with that, lol. There were no other options. It was just ok, some frozen dinners were better than the chicken, and chocolate cake i have definitely had better with frozen cakes, but the salad was fantastic, gotta give them their due there.

The workers were hard working, earnest, and very nice. But they do not speak English very well at all. It made it very hard to communicate about the complexities of the resort thinking we might have cancelled our reservations when they thought they did not have our money when we paid already via Expedia.

Room tip: Do NOT plan to go here, it was a nightmare to get there and the resort is not worth even half of $200 a night
Date of stay: August 2019
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank SteveFromKS
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
kegrob, Owner at LagunaVista Villas, responded to this reviewResponded 7 September 2019

Hi Steve,

Thank you for your review. We appreciate it very much. It's always good to receive constructive reviews, both positive and negative, as they help us realize what improvements we can make to ensure our guests have a more comfortable experience during their stay. So, thanks again for your efforts here. In response to some of your points:

We completely agree with you about the "highway" out to our lodge from our local town, Puerto Jimenez. We have complained about the roads and lack of bridges since we first bought the property in 1991. Everybody has lost a vehicle at some point in those rivers. We were told 30 years ago they would build an all-weather road, and install bridges over all the main rivers, plus bring us electricity, water, sewerage systems, phone lines, garbage collection, etc., etc. But they give us nothing, unfortunately. The Costa Rican government simply doesn't care about their citizens in our area. They sure tax us as if they do, though!
Anyway, the only solution we can offer here is to send our own staff out to work on the roads (something we've had to do many times over the years). But you could possibly help us all here by complaining to Google Maps and the Costa Rican government? They were the ones who misled you here, not us. A little due diligence and research on your part would have also helped you understand the road conditions, however, as this is described in many websites and publications. We also recommend in our website to use 4WD vehicles. Something to think about, anyway.
That said, many of our guests are adventurous types who choose locations like ours precisely because of the natural environment and the off-road experience. They have actually written reviews stating that getting to our area was one of the highlights of their trip. But these are the more adventurous travelers and guests, we realize.

Regarding your other comments:

1. Air-conditioning (AC). As we pointed out above, and as I explained to you during our phone call, the government supplies no main grid electricity to anyone living past the town of Puerto Jimenez. All hotels, lodges, private homes and businesses must pay for and install their own electricity systems. As a result, none of the hotels in our area offer AC. Not one. We use solar power, and occasionally our generator. The problem with AC is that it consumes large amounts of power and our solar system could not handle it. We would need to have a battery of generators running 24/7 in order to keep you constantly cool with AC. We do, however, have ceiling fans in all our rooms and deck plunge pools with cool water. Our main swimming pool also helps our guests refresh themselves. We hope this helps you understand the situation a little better, Steve.

2. Insects & Bats. As you may or may not know, our lodge is located 2km from the Corcovado National Park, the most biodiverse area in the world, according to National Geographic. Biodiversity brings with it insects, naturally, along with many other species, including small fruit bats. We are so happy to note their existence at our lodge, because, and as you may or may not realize, they are declining rapidly in the rest of the world. Europe has lost 65% of its insects. In China, they have to pollinate their plants by hand now in order to be able to harvest fruit and vegetables. Such is the huge decline in insects. So, thank you very much for letting us know that our insect population at the lodge still appears healthy. We really appreciate it. Many of our guests and researchers are vitally concerned about rainforest insects and mammals, as well, and they will also appreciate your comments.

3. “Outdoor” Bathroom. This really comes down to one’s definition of “outdoor”, don’t you agree? All our bedrooms have secure doors which connect them directly to their bathrooms. They open the door in the bedroom and immediately they’re in the bathroom. Outdoors? We don’t think so. Both the bathrooms and bedrooms share the exact same roof, too. There is no walking “outdoors” to reach any of our bathrooms in any of our guest units, in fact. This is what we would define as “outdoors”. You would have to be completely outside the guest unit to qualify as being outdoors, Steve. Agreed? The guest units all have very large openings to allow guests to view and enjoy Nature while heeding the call of Nature. What could be better and more appropriate, yes? Some bathrooms, like yours, also have mesh screening covering the main opening to allow the view but stop insects and leaves, etc. entering. And it would simply take a brief check of other guest reviews to realize that the vast majority of our Nature-loving guests totally enjoy our bathroom designs. That said, we have no idea why you didn’t enjoy your call of Nature experience, Steve. But we’re sorry you weren’t able to.

4. Bed & Mattress. We were quite concerned, however, when we read your comments about your bed, and especially that the mattress was only 4in thick. We thought for a moment that our staff had somehow cut the mattress into two pieces. But when they sent us photos of your mattress showing it was a full 7in thick, we were very relieved. Btw, it is a mattress, not a box spring support or anything else, and we will send you a photo to prove its dimensions. We also reread our earlier reviews and could find no others mentioning the condition of the mattress in your room. Which makes wonder if perhaps there is some other issue at play here? In any case, we will review this situation and, if determined necessary, we will replace this mattress with one we hope will meet your exacting standards, i.e. premium box springs plus memory foam mattress preferably. It’s probably a fairly easy and cheap process to import such mattresses into San Jose and transport them 300 miles down to our small lodge in the rainforest.

5. Restaurants in the area. Although there are no restaurants in our area, there are other lodges, and it is not a problem at all to contact them and arrange meals at these places. Quite often, our guests enjoy meals at nearby hotels, and their guests come to our place. It works well for all involved. It's a pity you didn't ask about this in the very short time you spent at our lodge.

6. Dinner. Our staff informed us you arrived at 7pm on August 24. We do not keep fresh fish in our refrigerators for days at a time for obvious reasons. In order to prepare fish for you and the four other guests at the lodge, our chef would have had to thaw the blocks of fish out and begin cooking well after 7pm. Unfortunately, our meal schedule is for dinners to be served at 7pm. Our other guests were already in the restaurant and our staff had already decided the meal of the evening (chicken, etc). Had you arrived earlier and imparted your food desires to our staff, you would have been served fish, we're sure. Perhaps next time you could phone ahead and let us know what you would like to be served?

7. We're very pleased to read your generous comments about our staff. Thank you. And yes, you are correct, they do not speak English very well. They are all taking classes, however, with a local volunteer turtle foundation from the UK. Our staff very much hope to improve their level of fluency in the language. Just as, we are sure, the staff in Kansas City hotels and restaurants are improving the level of their Spanish abilities. Btw, Spanish is spoken by more people in the world than English. Interesting, don't you think? Many of our guests love practicing their Spanish with our staff, too, and it is part of the joy of being in a foreign country, learning about a new culture, with all its wonders and differences, including the language. But we're sure that was one of the main reasons you visited Costa Rica, yes?

8. Payment via Expedia. This part puzzled us, as we send all our guests welcome messages explaining, among other things, that booking sites such as Expedia and Booking.com are not authorized to charge anything to their clients who book rooms at our lodge. Nor do we charge anything to our guests' credit cards. The card data is purely to pre-authorize the booking itself. The Welcome Message we sent you on August 19 clearly stated: "As with all our guest bookings, we do require payment in advance in order to block your room and prepare for your arrival. Any credit card details you may have submitted to Booking.com are required by them only to preauthorize your reservation. Nothing has been or will be charged to your card in the online booking process. For any incidental onsite expenses while at LagunaVista, however, you are welcome to pay by credit card, cash or PayPal." And if our welcome message didn't sound correct to you, a simple check with your credit card company would have verified that you had not paid anything to anyone prior to arriving at our lodge. Anyway, if you had read and understood our welcome message, you would not have had this issue with our staff, who know quite well that nothing had been charged in advance. We informed them of this prior to your arrival, in fact. Anyway, this information should help with your next visit to LagunaVista, yes?

9. As you no doubt know, like most hotel businesses, we have a Cancellation Policy. This information is stated in the contract you accepted with Booking.com in order to stay at our lodge. By rights, due to your late cancellation, we could have charged you 100% for the other two nights you booked with us. Nor did you meet our standard requirement for advance payment prior to arrival in order to allow us to block your room and prepare for your arrival (fish for dinner?). We elected not to charge you anything in response to your decision to cancel your stay. Unfortunately, and after reading your review, we sadly realize that such a generous gesture on our part was not reciprocated in the least by you and Lillian. This left us wondering what we had done wrong here. We're now sorry we offered this to you. Please accept our apologies.

Finally, it should not be overlooked that the main reason people come to our area of Costa Rica is to enjoy the abundant wildlife and beauty of the rainforest and beaches. Our property is magnificent in having a freshwater lagoon and luxurious rainforest with many species of animals and other wildlife, not to mention aquatic birds, turtles on our beaches and migrating whales passing directly in front of the property. It is so sad to know that you traveled so far to be in such a magical place, and you didn't make one comment about this in your review. Perhaps if you were to visit us again, I would make sure I was there, too, to help point out all the beauty of the world right in front of your eyes. The same beauty and wonder that attracts so many of our guests to our lodge and the area surrounding it. Think about it, ok, Steve?

All the best back there in Kansas City. And thanks again for your constructive comments. We have learned a lot from you.

Greg & Keiko

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 June 2019

Our family stayed at LagunaVista for 3 nights. The staff was fantastic and very accommodating. We enjoyed seeing all sorts of wildlife at the resort including Macaws, and white-faced Capuchin monkeys. We couldn't have been more happy with the beautiful accommodations and views. Our room included a fantastic view over the lagoon and beach with our own private personal outdoor pool/tub. The room had an open design, so you could hear the jungle around you at night, it was a great experience! A note of caution, the drive to the resort was quite an adventure as it is in general to get to the Corcavado National Park, take your time and drive slow to ensure you don't get a blow out on the rough roads. You don't want to miss this area as it holds approximately 25% of Costa Rica's entire wildlife.

Date of stay: June 2019
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank michaellT9736ZY
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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