Costa Rica! Marriott Hacienda Belen: Central Valley, Toucans, Waterfalls & Pics & more...

Discussion created by ssindc on Nov 25, 2019
Latest reply on Nov 30, 2019 by bejacob

OK, well, I was quite impressed (and very happy) with the Marriott Costa Rica Hacienda Belen (close to the airport and not too far outside of San Jose).  I'll start with the view from my suite/rooms - but much more on the property, below....

Hacienda room view

And, while I've only been in the country twice, I was again bowled over by the natural beauty, the nice people, and, yes, the extremely good coffee.  Over the weekend, before the work week started,*** I crammed in a little tourism, including a whirlwind tour of the Central Valley, offering a little of everything.


Side note: when I was here a number of years ago, I visited the Arenal Volcano and the (exquisite, memorable) hot springs at the Tabacon resort, which I also strongly recommend.


*** Related post: After the splendid weekend, described in this post, I moved closer to downtown and was pleasantly surprised by the Sheraton, which I also reviewed, here: Sheraton San Jose, Costa Rica - A Splendid Business Stay 


We got the day off to a great start at the informative Doka Coffee tour


OK, minor point, but, again, it's hysterical (to me) to hear that Costa Rican coffee beans are shipped Germany, where the caffeine is extracted ... for Diet Coke/Pepsi & Red Bull ... then shipped BACK to Costa Rica for sale and export) ... seriously...


Oh, and along the way, we also drove past (but not stopping at) the newish Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia (farm ... apparently their first farm ... and tour) ..... 

Anyway, the Doka property was beautiful...


colors everywhere:

Doka plant

and there was even some excellent live entertainment:

Doka musician
Sadly, the trip then progressed to the Poas Volcano (a complete and TOTAL BUST ...which involved donning a hard hat and lining up and waiting for ... a wall of completely opaque white cloud, smelling of sulphur, behind a rail ... in the drizzling rain ... I didn't even bother taking my camera out of my bag ....  ... apparently, this is quite common.  Live and learn.


Finally, we visited the gratifying and entertaining La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park (even if rained intermittently throughout) ...
la paz waterfalls
Throughout the course of the day, we saw toucans

toucan 1
My sense is they have a lot of personality & attitude

toucan 2
and we saw lots of butterflies

purple butterfly

Indeed, I actually visited two butterfly farms in one day!

Monarch butterfly
... and parrots

red parrot
and macaws and jaguars and hummingbirds... yup, lots of hummingbirds

hummingbird feeder
Did I mention they're really, really fast ... and hard to photograph ... and even more so where the light isn't very good because of the shade of the trees?  Still, I kind of liked this one:

hummingbird BW

and, we had a nice buffet lunch before we hiked to/through the various falls ... and there were more of them (and more stairs ... up and down) than I was expecting....
la paz waterfalls 2

and sloths, which are really cute, and, well, you get the idea...


Back at the Marriott, well, the largely open-air, luxurious yet relaxed property itself is a gem, I enjoyed my time here, and I strongly recommend the property.

  • Extremely well managed, with many staff members standing out for being friendly, helpful, attentive, etc. 
    • Great communication - particularly in advance - from the concierge and the on-site travel provider...;
  • Nice to be upgraded to a splendid two-room suite (using Suite Night Awards upgrades) - both rooms had floor to ceiling glass sliding glass doors; 
  • Super comfy robe (not the normal Marriott robe - more like a Renaissance robe) and slippers - you'd like these, brightlybob! ...
  • Comfortable bedroom ... and bed/bedding; 
    bedroom 1
  • and nice working desk, and lots of comfortable seating/lounging options;
    bedroom 2
  • Roomy extra room or living room - both with the same view
    living room - Belen
    I found working at the round table, looking out over the driving range toward the hills (see view at beginning of summary), more pleasant than the work desk (which faced the wall); 
  • Nice (unusual) suite touch - different coffee makers in each room - a Britt (Nespresso equivalent) espresso machine in one and a conventional single-serve packet system in the other;
  • Plentiful on-property activities:
    • Multiple pools - maybe adults, kids & whirlpool - but I didn't fully investigate; 
    • Excellent, fully stocked fitness center, plus a full service spa (the latter which I didn't visit); 
    • Interesting for golfers - very nice driving range and pitching/putting green, but no actual golf course - Here's the view from the far end of the driving range looking back at one side of the hotel;Marriott Hacienda view
  • LOTS of dining options, and I sampled a some but not all;
    • I really enjoyed the sushi/poke bar; 
    • I ate one late meal in the sports bar - the guacamole was quite good; 
    • I had a (very reasonably priced) buffet lunch in the main restaurant - the high point was the outside deck at a comfortable table with a terrific view;
    • I didn't make it to the Peruvian restaurant (which might be the best, based on what I heard);
    • Oh, and there's a seemingly always-open coffee and pastry and well-stocked gift shop....
    • Maximum points for the concierge lounge - well staffed and offering an impressive full breakfast (with daily changes), plus a far-more-than-appetizer evening offering - with lots of hot entrees and salad and desserts, which I sensed many folks treated as dinner.....
    • And this is as good a place as any to mention that they brought me ... soon after check-in ... a splendid, large, colorful, and, of course, tasty fruit bowl as my welcome gift ... which got my stay off to a very nice start....


One side note: it's a unique location - close to the Airport, quite far from downtown (although you'd never notice, once you're inside the gates/compound), ... but very close to the Bridgestone/Firestone and Deloitte's offices, so there's a fair amount of both family vacation (with some nice touches, like a well-stocked board game cabinet) and business vibe in play here.... and, also, apparently, a popular wedding venue (which makes sense to me).