September 2011 (The rainy season)
If you and your crazy friends want a place with privacy for a take-over than this may be the place for you. If its you and your significant other(s) its probably a waste of time. For us, it was a big disappointment.
Jim at Castaways Travel had warned me that it was not the swinging place the website and brochures made it out to be and I told him that was all right, I wasn't looking for Hedo. What I was looking for was a well run hotel in an old mansion, of some sophistication above San Jose but with San Jose nightlife available. I didn't get that either.
First, its way above San Jose, 30 to 40 minutes above and that makes it significantly cooler than San Jose. You go to the top of the hill and then partway down a dead end one lane road where there's a gate with a sign that says, honk for attention. The gate was open but we honked anyway, nobody came. We drove in and stopped in front of an old house. There was a simple wood framed window in the wall, another on the next wall and when I looked in it looked like a room that had been modified to be an office.
I went around, and stepped down into an empty reception. We cried, "hola?" but no one came. Then a woman was wandering around and saw us there, she was the day manager and she wondered if we had a reservation. I pulled out my printed e-mail confirmation and we were in. Later I learned that there was only one other couple staying there. If I was the manager and I had only one couple at my inn, I would be very aware if I had a reservation for a second. I probably would be waiting by the gate to make sure they didn't miss the turn. (The website offers speedy 24 hour check in.) But I was to learn this was just the first of the many ways I felt the administration of the Hotel Desire, San Jose, missed the telling details.
We were given a map of the resort that listed the "Prude" side and the "Nude" side. My companion had been there a year earlier (There had been only two couples there that time too.) so she knew where our room was. The manager said she could have my suitcase taken out to our room. I joked and said I could manage as long as all of the paths were paved. I found out that they weren't.
Adriana lead me through the main building and out to the grounds, past the nude pool and the outdoor hot tub. (The other couple was in the hot tub, but with their clothes on.) Then she lead me through a gate in a wall (there was no pavement through the gate, just some clay and a couple of rocks). Then we walked through a very nice garden, around an abandoned solarium, outdoor bar and ping pong table under a collapsing tent. We walked down a gravel road that had so many weeds that you didn't notice it was gravel until it crunched under your feet. To the outbuilding with our room at the top. There was no paved path leading to or from our building.
The whole place is a bizarre combination of details and lapses. Our room had a nice wardrobe and no place to lay out your suitcase. The wood floor was well polished but it sank under our feet, popping and moaning. There seemed to be a large grounds keeping staff, the lawns were well trimmed, the plants cared for and weeds growing through the dirty pavement.
There were nice curtained beds by the pools and rain water sitting on top of the vinyl covered mattress. The signs make it clear that the resort is for adults only but they haven't removed the ancient and rusting playground equipment. In the main building there's some very nicely carved wooden doors with a store bought paper sign tacked to them that says, "stay out, employees only." There's a chef to make your meals when you order them, and it takes more than a half hour for them to be made. (And the fair is simple and the taste bland.) They have a menu for Breakfast and Lunch that is used for dinner as well. The is a leather embossed logo and name on the menus, for the La Catalina Hotel. In fact there were several paper signs nailed to telephone poles on the way up the hill giving directions to La Catalina but out front it only said Hotel Desire. As there is no outdoor lighting after dark, they gave us a wind up flashlight, that could not be turned off.
Its isolated, which means you have privacy. The staff is friendly. Its has reasonable rates for an "all inclusive."
The management seem incompetent. We wandered into several places where old empty liquor bottles were left about. An old slide was laying by a path, the shade netting was growing moss. We didn't take our clothes off outside as we felt conspicuous. No, DVD player. The driver from San Jose to their Jaco Beach resort appeared to be not well acquainted with the local roads.
The website said there would be a lingerie fashion show the night we were there, (it describes a themed party for every night of the week). I bought my companion a bustier and matching panty at Victoria's Secret. When we learned there were only four guests in the whole place we figured the show was canceled, but no staff said anything one way or the other. The staff never said anything about the scheduled daily activities and we never saw any.
Don't go! Unless you bring your own party with you and you feel the need for a lot of privacy. But otherwise, for your $250, you can get much better accommodations, closer to the action, with lights, a regular restaurant and modern conveniences.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Desire Costa Rica is an All Inclusive, Lifestyle,Clothing optional ADULT/COUPLES ONLY Resort in Santa Barbara, overlooking the valley of San Jose and 20 minutes from the airport.It is for couples that do not have to be nude and that are not offended by nudity. ... more less