“ Address: Esterillos Este / Puntarenas / Costa Rica / Tel: +506 2778 8105 „
Pelican Hotel and Restaurant, Esperillo Este
My brother - in law booked this hotel for us to have a few days down on the beach relaxing after our 10 day tour of Costa Rica with the company 'Caravan'. On the internet it looked very nice and it was right on the beach on the Pacific side of Costa Rica not too far from San Jose and quite near Manuel Antonio National Park. It advertised that it had a pool, all rooms had air-conditioning, there was a bar and restaurant that would cook whatever you liked according to the emails my brother in law had from the manager.
Anyway we left San Jose in our car hired from 'Vamos' which we also booked on the internet. We had a satnav and so we did not have to stress with the lack of useful maps and we headed through the Central Valley area towards to Pacific coast. We found the hotel really easily after about a two hour drive and parked in the car park behind the hotel. As it sits on the beach the back of the hotel faces the road. First impressions were that it looked a bit basic and a come down from some of the other hotels we had been staying in throughout our tour in Costa Rica. As we were paying $120 per room per night we thought it should have been okay.
Reception was a minute room but hey, who cares about that and after we confirmed who we were the young manager took us up to our rooms. They were next to each other with a shared balcony which was fine as we were together but if you didn't know the people next door it would have been a little too cosy I think, especially as the window on the balcony looked straight into the bedroom. The chairs on the balcony were solId wood and looked quite nice but were actually not very comfortable as the backs were very upright. We did spend a bit of time on the balcony as we enjoyed some supermarket purchased drinks on there while watching the tropical storm one night and a gang of turkey vultures roosting on the trees another night. On the third night a huge flock of parrots disturbed the roosted turkey vultures and entertained us with their cacophony of squawks and after this we had a display of fireflies so all in all the balcony and surrounds did a fine nature display which was just as well as we could not read in our room as the lights were so dull and one was not working.
The rooms were basic with nice polished wooden floors and wooden ceilings too. The walls were painted yellow with blue and yellow cotton curtains that looked home made. The bed was a wooden frame with sprung mattress which was quite comfortable but we only had three pillows, a sheet and a bed cover. There was a small cupboard with two small drawers and then two bedside tables and a suitcase strand. On the wall were four pegs to hang whatever didn't fit in the tiny cupboard I suppose. There was air conditioning and an overhead fan and so the temperature in the room was very comfortable once you had these going but it did struggle a bit when we first arrived to cool the room during the middle of the day heat.
The bathroom was pretty awful, very small with a blue basin and toilet and a fairly basic shower with a rusty framed door. You also had to put the toilet paper in the bin which I always find revolting and worse they didn't empty it after we had been there a day. My husband went to complain but it still wasn't emptied when we went to bed. It was finally emptied after we complained again the next day. The shower nozzle squirted up as well as down and the water temperature fluctuated from cold to quite hot without you altering the taps which was pretty unpleasant. Towels were provided and soap but nothing else, no shampoo and no hair dryer either.
On the day we arrived we had had a pretty good breakfast at the Holiday Inn in San Jose so we just felt like a snack for lunch so we went to the bar/restaurant downstairs. We ordered a smoothie, a fresh lime juice a coke and a beer as well as corn chips with guacamole and a tomato salsa. We sat for nearly 20 minutes before the drinks arrived and well over an hour for the food. What creased us was the bar man came and told us the food would be with us in a few minutes and he was sorry as they had been very busy - there were only three tables of people in there, us four, another couple and a group of five. We hadn't asked for a gourmet meal just a few corn chips and a couple of dips. Then to add insult to injury there was a 10% service charge added as well as a 13% tax. This food and another round of drinks - the smoothie and fresh lime we changed to two bottled drinks to save time, cost us just under $30US which we thought was rather a lot which is why we were buying drinks at the supermarket to drink out of plastic cups (we also had to buy as there were no glasses in the rooms) on our balcony.
Apart from breakfast we did not eat in the hotel restaurant again after this fiasco so I cannot say if they did produce any other food in the advertised restaurant. The breakfasts were fine but I did find the fact that the owner had four large dogs wandering around the restaurant area a bit off putting. They were all very friendly but I prefer not to share my meals with large dogs and find the pitiful stare as I took each mouthful was just a little disconcerting. They did come for walks along the beach with us and swam in the sea when we did. I didn't see them in the pool but that was another reason I kept out of the pool just in case!
Breakfast was from 7am to 9am and was laid out on the bar down stairs. There were 6 plates of fruit cut up and covered with clingwrap. Coffee and tea bags with hot water was also on the bar. On the other side there was white or brown bread, a large four slice toaster, butter and three jams in sundae dishes under a plastic fly proof cover. It was adequate and we were quite happy with this, basic but it did the job and was what we had at home normally anyway. There were spoons for the jams on the second day but on the first day we had to use knives to get the butter and jam which made it get a bit messy after a couple of people had been using it and there were no saucers for the cups but it could have been worse, it could have taken two hours like our drinks and snack had the previous day.
The hotel was in a lovely location right on the beach lined with palm trees and other tropical vegetation. The sand was dark but when we were there the beach was empty and you could walk for miles along the sand unless it was sunny in which case you ran across the dry sand to walk along the wet sand which was a bit cooler. The sea was quite rough and there were definite rips but as long as you stayed within your depth when the waves were deepest then it was okay but I would not have let children swim there. Also because it was rough as the waves broke a lot of sand was thrown up so as you swam you got your swim suit full of sand.
There was a small tropical garden leading to the beach with a covered cement floored area with hammocks as well as a table and chairs. A tap allowed you to wash off the worst of the fine dark sand as you left the beach. Right at the beach edge were more hammocks and some sun loungers (plastic but no cushions) but it had rained really heavily in the night and when I sat in one at about 3.45 in the afternoon I got a damp bottom so we went for a walk along the beach instead accompanied by a couple of the hotel owner's four dogs. We found three or four really lovely sand dollars on our walk which was interesting as I hadn't seen any on a beach since I found them in St Kitts when my Dad lived there.
There was a pool just below our room but every morning we saw about half a dozen crabs in it which slightly put me off going in there. My sister and brother in law swam in there but I wasn't risking an ear infection prior to the three flights we had over the next week so I didn't venture in. The following day the pool was full of new guests so maybe I was just being a bit fussy.
When we checked out a day early so that we could be back in San Jose near the airport the young manager did apologise for the bin in the bathroom not being emptied and said they had a new cleaner. He also only charged us $80 a night which was far more reasonable so we left happy and looking forward to a night in the Holiday Inn Express next to the airport for our final night.
Would I recommend it? Well, it was in a fantastic location right on the beach and it was very laid back and peaceful. If you didn't mind the bathroom situation the rooms were clean and comfortable if not luxurious and there was both an air conditioner and a ceiling fan so it was cool. It was not that cheap though and I think it was quite expensive for the standard of accommodation and service that was provided.
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