@Snow00774: Ooooh I didn’t even give you hotel recs. My bad! Use Tripadvisor, their reviews and pictures will give you a GREAT idea what to expect. Also, sign up for Travelzoo, they always have great Costa Rica deals. Also, Travel by Jen, is a travel agency that does a lot of Costa Rica stuff – they were great. They have preset packages but you don’t have to do a whole package to get a deal. I called them because we needed a hotel for one part of our stay, and they got us a great deal. So anyways, here are a few recommendations:
Arenal Volcano/La Fortuna region:
Casa Luna: This was a very affordable hotel. This is the one I got via Travel by Jen. It was much cheaper than the rate on their website. It was very nice for the price. Nothing fancy, no frills, but I loved it. It felt very “Costa Rican”. There was a good pool, breakfast was free, and every room has either a patio or balcony.
The Springs: If money were no object, I would stay here. They have numerous hot spring pools, and the setting is just gorgeous. It faces the volcano, the restaurants are amazing, and they even have a wildlife reserve. We did come here for dinner and the hot springs and loved it. So even if you don’t stay here, you can still enjoy what they have to offer for a really affordable day rate.
Tabacon: This is one of the more popular (and $$$) hotels in the area. We personally didn’t visit, but I have friends who did and really liked it. All the guide books will talk about this hotel. I’m sure it’s great, but personally I loved The Springs and thought it offered a great deal.
There are many other hotels in this area. I really really enjoyed this area because there was so much to do as far as adventure-type activities, but you could also relax and enjoy the hot springs. Also, I found it very “authentic”. Even though it was a very popular tourist area – it didn’t feel that way.
Beyond the Volcano area, other very popular locations are Monteverde (cloud forest), Guanacasta (beach – very close to Liberia airport), Manuel Antonio (very popular beach destination).