I absolutely cannot wait for our next trip to Costa; this was hands-down the best vacation I've ever been on. The folks at Escape Villas made sure we had the lay of the land and all the right information to kick back and really enjoy our stay. Only a 10-15 minute walk to great nightlife and restaurants and 20 to the beach - you can't beat it.
Traveling with such a large group feels daunting, but the house was not only a perfect fit, but it was absolutely beautiful. Check out Casa de Las Brisas on instagram - perfect house for a wedding, too....hint hint TC.
Stephane was the most amazing chef and was a true champ - dealing with 25 rambunctious late-20-somethings isn't an easy feat. The food was superb and we found ourselves craving local cuisine for weeks after returning to NYC.
And did I mention the monkeys?? The highlight of our afternoons, for sure.
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This is a wonderful villa in Manuel Antonio laid out on about 6 different levels. We had a vacation with extended family encompassing 3 generations - oldest early 70's to youngest being 6 yrs. We had an excellent stay and I will offer both pluses and minuses as the only caveat in an otherwise stellar review would be two items: 1) staying in Manuel Antonio during the peak 2 weeks of the year (Dec 25th-Jan 10th) is not same as other off-peak weeks (more on that in a bit); 2) the house is an incredibly cool multi-level "tree-house" configuration laid out with 10 beds - mostly en suite baths, but if you want a 5-star hotel like experience w/ every convenience and 100% reliability, you probably should go search for that in a hotel setting.
Pluses: tons of room to spread out - bedrooms on diff levels afford privacy - people aren't all on top of each other - it an amazing layout and a lot of fun for kids. Also, walk accessible to great restaurants in town, and short hop to so many wonderful destinations/beaches etc; all bdrms have A/C and mostly en suite bathrooms with cool tubs and tiled showers, extremely cool ocean views from roof-top deck and from 1st floor level, multiple Jacuzzi pools and a very nice main pool on lower level, nice roomy common areas with TV/cable and rec room with billiards etc, also nice car port/garage area for rental cars. House is surrounded by rain forest, so plenty of visits from Capuchin and squirrel monkeys (if you feed them, expect regular repeat visits...). Escape Villas staff huge plus: Marco and Jimmy our chefs/cooks - can't say enough positive things about them - food was delicious, blender drinks, quesadilla appetizers, delicious entrees and desserts - they were always on-time/professional, affable and wonderful guys. Loved getting up in the morning for those breakfasts. Ricky - Escape's property/guest manager was awesome and was really responsive any time we encountered an issue or problem. Same with Valerie. For large groups of 15-20, it really is a great setup.
Minuses or minor issues: peak season weeks means villa rental agencies dramatically increase rental rates, which in turn may prompt guests to feel things should work 100% seamlessly for the $ being spent, but that's not realistic. So with that in mind, take the following not as complaints, but just as telling it like it is (or was). A lot of our restaurant reservations and outdoor activity reservations got scrambled last minute - likely due to restaurants and tour operators juggling overbookings and being crazy busy etc - not Escape's fault - we'd been warned how busy this week is. Our 1st day we discovered Costa Rican utilities are not 99.99% reliable, lol. We lost power for an hour or so on Day 2 - wifi would not return with it for a few hours. Day 4, we lost power around 9pm until next morning - darkness - so evening was truncated. Internet and phones went down late morning on Day 6 and were gone until early evening. All of these issues were mostly neighborhood or area-wide - a symptom of peak season usage? Maybe. Day 5 our bathroom shower lost all water pressure. They were on it very quickly, but by the morning we left, same issue returned. Also, only the 1st floor and deck have reliable Wi-Fi but 5 bedrooms on the 3 lower levels have no connection - which could be easily remedied by owners investing small amount in network extenders, but many are not coming to C.R. to be tethered to the Internet while in your bedrooms. Right? Also, the common areas have no A/C and the main living room kitchen area is very dimly lit at night and extremely humid in evenings - esp with oven going and even with ceiling fans - this is the tropics so was prepared for a little humidity, but I'd expected more breezes given the house name and prox to the ocean - it makes the A/C bdrms feel like a heavenly retreat by comparison - the breezes do not really find their way into the kitchen/lvngrm. This is Costa Rica, so why should I whine about such creature comforts? I should not and it didn't really cramp our style, but the drinks/dinner hour are so fun for family/friends, the common areas of the house are so neat, and the food Jimmy and Marco prepare is soooo good, it leaves you wondering what the experience might be like if the common areas were a little better lit and cooled even a little for just a few hours in the evening.
All in all, this was an excellent family vacation and I would recommend the house and particularly the Escape staff and cooks to anyone looking to rent in that area. House is in a great location and very thoughtfully laid out with a lot of unique features, sunbathing and pool areas - plus having drinks on the roof deck at sunset was a highlight. If we had it to do over again, we might opt to rent during off-peak weeks to take advantage of rental rates 35-40% lower, but still a great rental experience.
I recently got back from this trip to celebrate my 40th birthday with 24 close friends.
We all had a blast. The house is so much better than the photos online. The bedrooms are big and spacious - and they're spread out across the property. There were a lot of rooms to hang out - living room, rooftop deck, 3 pools, game room, patio. Cafe Milagro and a lot of the restaurants and bars are walking distance. Beach is a 15 min hike down the main road or the side street across Cafe Milagro. It's a hike up but you can take taxi or bus if you feel out of shape. Even though we went during the rainy season, there were plenty of things to do. Mornings are always clear so it's a good time to go to the beach and see the park. The house was so comfortable that even when it's raining, we can always find things to do - especially swimming in the pool in the rain. We brought games, guitar and karaoke.
The staff is amazing - very helpful and we all felt at home. Chef Marcos made us great meals - the biggest withdrawal from the trip was waking up to smell of breakfast every day. Thank you Marcos, Marta, Ricky and the rest of the staff for making our stay memorable and comfortable!
(It was also nice to go home with clean laundry)
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I travelled here with a large (>20) group celebrating a friend's milestone birthday. The property is well set up for a large group and we all enjoyed our stay here. There were nice views of both the ocean and the rainforest from multiple terraces. The place has a good mix of shared spaces to socialize as well as privacy. We felt safe and secure here. The housekeepers were great and the chef and sous-chef were wonderful.
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