Newlyweds share their recent honeymoon experience at Cristal Azul Boutique Retreat.
My husband and I enjoyed a perfect honeymoon at Cristal Azul, absolutely perfect. It surpassed our expectations on so many levels. To note: this was not my first trip to Costa Rica, I had spent a semester in college living with a host family and returned a few years later with friends but it was my husbands first visit. We spent a week in early March and still speak of the food, the adorable dogs, the empty beach, Henner’s hot sauce and napping in the hammocks almost daily. Having now experienced Cristal Azul I will start this review by saying that this place will always be a favorite of ours and one we will return to for sure, (easy access from NYC & reasonable fares) but it is not for everyone. Having traveled throughout the country before, I can say that this area is my absolute favorite and the only one I want to return to again.
It should go without saying that in order to enjoy the type of privacy and remoteness that Cristal Azul affords, you also have to trek yourself out there. It took us three hours to drive from the Liberia airport but we enjoyed it. Zene gave us excellent directions and suggestions on where to stop for gas, food and ATM. The last part was on dirt roads, which added to our adventure of traveling in Central America. The road up the Cristal Azul is steep and windy but oh so worth it! Once you arrive, Henner is quick to offer a cold beverage and all we could smell was the delicious aroma of dinner being prepared coming from the kitchen. We spent over an hour in the rancho talking with Henner & Zene taking in the views/chatting it up with other guests before we even made it to our “cabina”, which had even better views. (We left NY in the morning and by sunset we were in the pool with a cocktail in hand.)
I loved our “cabina” and would rent one yearly if I could. There were only four in total and all are far enough from the rancho for quiet sleep time but also close in proximity to each other. This did not affect nor bother us at all because we only used ours to sleep, shower and change. The rest of the time we were in the pool, the hammocks or on the beach. We could tell that each room was quite large and our bathroom had plenty of shelf space to allow us to “move in” for a few days. The furniture and décor was tropical, “beachy”, of good quality and classy too. Rooms were cleaned daily, beach and pool towels were provided, and the beds were soft yet firm, and comfy. The AC was very strong but we opted to sleep with the screen door and fan. By far the best thing about our cabina was our outdoor shower. You just have to experience taking one for yourself to appreciate it. Oh, and every morning there were monkeys eating mangos in the tree outside of our bathroom! How cool is that!
The “common area’ shared by the small amount guests the hotel can hold, is a huge “rancho” that looked out over a vanishing edge pool and patio with day beds and a covered table. Off to one side was a suspending deck with hammocks and a small table (we had breakfast here one morning) perfect place if you want some quiet time. The rancho had oodles of games, puzzles, good music they provide (you can play your own too if you like, there is an IPod hookup) and a beautiful pool table that comes with a great story involving a professional pool player/past guest. It is a completely open, “Tiki Hut” type of structure with a palm roof, (that was recycled plastic that looks exactly like palm) and amazing views from wherever you park yourself. We were immersed in “jungle” and in touch with nature! (But not too much!) The pool – divine. Cool, crystal clear, and literally on the edge of the hill with the best view of all on the property. I will refrain from sharing the picture of me with on the edge but there are plenty of pictures posted here that can give you only a hint of what it has to offer.
Our food was amazing and portions were plentiful. A bit more expensive than some places but also the nicest place we ate during our trip and in our lives in general. And beach casual! Henner set the table for us one night with flowers and candles by the pool, cross your fingers for this treat! We could not believe that amazing canopy of stars that were above us for our meal…and no bugs! I doubt we will ever experience something that private and romantic again unless we win the lottery. Thank you Henner! After dinner he laid out candles by the day beds and we took post dinner naps by starlight, listening to the ocean. Spectacular!
Activities were available and we opted to do the Butterfly Farm Tour with Mike, Zip Line Tour & an afternoon fishing. In hindsight I could have skipped the Zip Line but that is because I prefer that San Miguel had no crowds or retails shops and was just empty beach versus Samara which really only had shopping, restaurants and a packed beach. If you like to shop, do the zip line in the morning and spend the afternoon in town. Ourselves, once done zipping we drove as fast as we could back and jumped in the pool. Do not miss Mike’s tour or the lunch place on the beach (I forget the name but it is the only one “on” the beach). We ate at several local places for lunch during our week there. Our advice: eat at the Costa Rican owned/operated places.
We felt the value of Cristal Azul was excellent, worth every penny! The hotel and the grounds are so charming and tropical, the service is five star, food is fantastic, everything is well maintained and cared for, unforgettable, breathtaking views, plenty to do and the kindest hosts ready to point you in all the right directions. Perfect if the small, intimate, pampered experience is what you want and quality, comfort and cuisine matter greatly. We almost stayed at another hotel close by so if you are debating let us offer you this advice: Cristal Azul is the only hotel in town with ocean views and all hotels require you to drive to the beach. In our opinion, it was by far the nicest hotel in town and most authentic. We are already trying to gather a group of friends for a return in 2015!