I do not write reviews but am now going too! Cristal Azul impressed me so much I became a member of TA to help spread the word about what an amazing place it is and how Zene & Henner have created something very unique & upscale, yet not out of reach to many travelers…yet??!!
We were not looking for a five star resort because we find them impersonal and a bit tacky. We prefer “hidden gems” such as this that allow you to immerse yourself in the true character and culture of the area visiting. In this case, we wanted to be in a very tropical setting, small, a bit luxe for those much needed creature comforts and at a resort having minimal impact on the area and again, that feeling of immersion. Henner and Zene have not missed a beat at CA and you cannot go wrong here, worth every penny!
Rooms are perfectly appointed and have the most amazing ocean view we have ever seen in many years of travel. There are not many views like that left in the world so we spent most of our mornings and evenings just taking it all in. Queen beds were very comfy, sheets crisp and high thread count but my favorite thing was the super soft, fresh smelling towels. The only ones we had in our entire three weeks in CR. Beach and pool towels provided/huge/and changed daily. (Along with everything you would want to take to the beach…even Badminton…we are planning a Round Robin Tournament when we return with friends!). More than ample space for belongings in the cabinas and bathroom, gorgeous teak furniture that we learned was made locally and the highlight for us was the outdoor shower! I will never look at mine the same again. We also really liked the retractable laundry line that allowed us to leave our wet bathing suits outside to dry and not have them lingering damp inside our bathroom. And the screen doors were genius! We spent a few nights in AC until we realized that with the screens open, we could fall asleep and wake up the sound of the waves below, monkeys and parrots! But…..trust us you will only use your room to sleep and shower because you have the rancho and pool area; your personal heaven on earth and very hard to leave.
Overall, photos do not do this place justice…the views literally take your breath away! And if you like to hike or bird, the grounds are loaded with wildlife and you have access to excellent places to hike!
Food, best we had on our trip but take advice of your hosts and check out the places they recommend for lunch. Eat dinner in! Every meal was planned for us, with us. Very nice touch. We appreciated greatly the care that went into making sure we tried all the delicacies they had to offer and also the attention to what we could not or chose not to try.
The hill up to reach the resort was not as tough as we anticipated and we actually saw lots of wildlife on each drive so…our vote is thumbs up! You can’t get a view like that without working a little! Best part – apart from everything Henner and Zene have created at Cristal Azul was the privacy and the views!!!! Nice note: CA is only hotel in town where you wont have other tourists stopping by to see rooms or locals crowding the bar.
This is the real Costa Rica folks and I have to admit, leaving mad me very very sad. That view will be with me always. Bravo & Cheers to you both, we will be back for sure, keep the hot sauce bowl full Henner and guard that family recipe!
Overall about San Miguel:
We spent five days in San Miguel and three weeks in Costa Rica. This is an area of Costa Rica absolutely worth visiting if you want to see what the country probably was like before the world arrived. Having now spent time in SM, and dined at the two other hotel restaurants and seen the options to stay at, we offer this to travelers: If you are an experienced traveler expecting comfort and style, Cristal Azul is the only option. If you are looking to splurge and treat yourself, go for it, it is more than worth every penny we spent! Backpackers will find a hip spot on the beach that while in need of a some handy work, is perfectly suitable for young surfers looking for a good time, and a bargain. Only hotel in town right on the beach. Another hotel oddly located far off the beach had good food and an eager to please owner and staff. New, modern and cement it is perfect if you like the sterile, South Beach experience, not Costa Rican/tropical beach by any means. A third hotel with lovely looking grounds on the main road was closed but appeared very charming from what we could see from the road. Bottom line, as we realized one afternoon chatting in the rancho, Cristal Azul is the only Costa Rican owned hotel in town so if you want the real deal…stay there! Bring plenty of sunblock and a good hat, you won’t need bug block surprisingly! Water was perfectly drinkable and delicious. Don’t miss Mike’s Butterfly Farm tour or lunch at Tanga’s!
Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple