La Paz Waterfall Gardens

We just got back from an amazing weekend at La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Varablanca.  We were there for Teresa and Charlie's wedding, which I will be posting tomorrow.  We decided at the last minute to drive up the day before and stay the night, even though we are living only an hour away, and we are so glad that we did.  The photos really can't do this place justice, it was really special. 

Tully makes herself at home.The room was great, very rustic and cabin-y, but we were really impressed with the bathroom.  It had this really cool chandelier, and a stone wall that had real plants and a waterfall.  I've had apartments smaller than this bathroom.  It was really neat.

There was a hummingbird feeder on the balcony and I was amazed at how unafraid these guys were.   They didn't care that we were right there. 

Probably the best part about this place is the extensive grounds.  They are known for their five waterfalls, but they also have an exotic bird sanctuary, butterfly garden, hummingbirds, jungle cats, all kinds of stuff.  I wish we had more time to explore it all.

We really enjoyed every detail of this place, from our name outside our room, to the four course dinner, to the heated pool with jungle views.  The service was excellent, the setting was awesome, and I highly recommend it.  There was even a jacuzzi on the balcony.  And at the end of the night we came back to the room to relax by the fire.  Tully was just happy to have a new space to explore.

And that's not even all.  The people who own this place just opened up a new hotel near Arenal Volcano and for staying the night at La Paz, we got a free night at their new resort, The Springs.  We're suckers for free, so we decided to drive over there the next day, in a rain storm, with a terrible map, for three hours.  Like I said, we're suckers.

This place was weird, and lacked the charm of La Paz.  For one thing, it's in the middle of nowhere.  Actually, it's 3.4 km past nowhere.  You get to nowhere, and then you turn on to a poorly marked dirt road and drive for another fifteen minutes.  It feels like longer, though, because the road is so bad and lined with houses so run-down you can't image that there is going to be a big brand new fancy resort at the end of it.  We started to think it was a practical joke, to see how far some crazy gringos will go for the offer of something free.  But just when we were about to give up, the road is suddenly paved with bricks and the massive building emerges into view.

We later discovered that the reason the room was free was because they needed guinea pigs with which to break in the staff for real paying customers.  Also, the place is still under construction, and this being Costa Rica, is probably four years away from completion.  (It has already been under construction for 6 years.)  The place is fancy and nice, but it's all rather strange to have such a big expensive place out in the middle of nowhere.  I'm not really sure how they plan on filling rooms out there, especially with so many comparable places closer to the main road.  Time will tell.  The weirdest thing was that the place was huge, with lots of big expansive spaces, and it was practically empty.  As a result it had kind of a Shining vibe.  But the view was amazing.  I mean, there was fog blocking it when we arrived, but we caught a glimpse of it in the morning.  And the rooms were pretty nice, especially the bathrooms, but they were pretty bland and lacking character, especially compared to La Paz.  Of course, Tully could care less as there were more new things for her to explore...

And here's the volcano, as seen from the car going 60 km/hour.  I got a few better photos I took from the patio of our room, but they're on the memory card that's in the camera that's in the suitcase and that's just too much work at this hour.  It's big and smoking and has a mini-eruption every several minutes.  Neat.  So, as much as we were unimpressed by the second hotel, we were glad we took the trip and got to see this:

Tomorrow I will post some photos from the wedding.  La Paz is a pretty spectacular spot to elope to.  If you haven't already seen it, scroll down to the next post to get a sneak peek.  We did some portraits in the Butterfly Observatory...