DESTINATION: Costa Rica and the Grateful Hotel
I love to hear about others' experiences when they travel, so I thought that I would share an experience I had at a hotel in Costa Rica. It's called the Grateful Hotel and it is just a few minutes' walk from Playa Grande.
Our trip to Costa Rica was fairly planned out: a few days at the beach, a few days in the mountains, and then the final 2 days at the beach.
Though Costa Rica isn't the largest country in Central America, it does stretch from one coast to the other. We didn't travel to its Caribbean coast on this trip; we stayed on the Pacific Ocean side which, I understand, is the "better" of the two.
Our stay kept us mostly in Guanacaste Province, in the northwest corner of the country.
Our first few nights found us at a nice, bungalow-style resort in the coastal town of Tamarindo called the Ocho Artisan Bungalows (check out the photos here). These bungalows were a great stay, but with a totally different vibe from the Grateful Hotel.
Our last two nights in Costa Rica were at the Grateful Hotel. We chose the Playa Grande area on the recommendation of a friend who is an avid surfer.
He told us that Playa Grande was a different experience from the more populated beaches on the coast of Costa Rica. No stretches of restaurants, nightclubs, and souvenir shops. No paved roads. No traffic. More private residences than hotels (or so it appeared).
It was a much more laid-back experience in the Playa Grande area than our last experience in Tamarindo.
This hotel is within the Marino Las Baulas Costa Rica National Park, a reserve, of sorts, where land and sea and all that lives in each are protected.
The Grateful Hotel lent a huge hand in making it a laid-back experience. Within a 7-minute walk from the beach, the Grateful Hotel is great for surfers, beachcombers, beach bums, beach enthusiasts, swimmers, snorkelers, sunbathers... you get the picture.
When we met Phil, the owner of the Grateful Hotel, we couldn't have met a nicer man.
Phil appears to be a minimalist. What I mean by "appear" is just that: his appearance. Dressed in shorts, T-shirt, cap, and flip-flops, I would guess that Phil doesn't like long pants. Heck, he may not even own any long pants.
One thing that Phil loves: anything Grateful Dead. The music, the artwork, the stories, the attitude - Phil loves EVERYTHING about the Grateful Dead.
So much so, the hotel he bought when he left the United States for Costa Rica became the Grateful Hotel in what is, I am certain, a nod to his favorite band.
Every room has some sort of Grateful Dead memorabilia: photos, artwork, tapestries, and lots of tie-dye and psychedelic colors in every room.
And if you are a band and want to perform at the Grateful Hotel, you are welcome to do so, as they host live shows several nights each week, depending on the season. But, if you DO play a show there, you MUST have a few Grateful Dead tunes in your repertoire.
And you have to be okay with Phil taking to the mic while you are playing any of those Grateful Dead songs, as Phil knows every word to every Dead song.
He can even listen to a live recording of a Dead show and tell you which show it was - the man KNOWS the Grateful Dead!
As far as the rooms go, they were exactly what we needed for this stay: a bed, a shower, a bathroom, and air conditioning. Added bonuses: an area for hanging clothes, a safe, a refrigerator, beach towels.
The restaurant at the Grateful was, in itself, amazing. the Sugaree Bar and Grill offers dishes like fresh ceviche, octopus risotto, a nice selection of fresh fish, great salads, steaks, sandwiches, burgers - all of them delicious.
Our stay at the Grateful Hotel was amazing. The food, the location (really quiet and close to the beach), the staff, the entertainment, and even the iguana were nice.
If you really want to get away from
it all most of it, you need to check out the Playa Grande area of Costa Rica. Show up, take off your shoes, and relax.
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