Villa Lapas

My second overnight trip after moving to Costa Rica nearly 10 years ago was to this locally-owned & operated lodge/hotel near the village of Tarcoles, less than an hour west of Atenas, Villa Lapas. I did not get many bird or other wildlife photos compared to later trips other places, but you can see what I got in my Trip Gallery: Villa Lapas, July 2015. The appeal then and now is that it is located next to Carara National Park, where, with a good guide (that I did not have then), you can photograph a lot of different bird species as you also can on the right Tarcoles River Boat Safari. Since then I’ve discovered lots of better lodges for birds and other nature photography (even in that area – see bottom of post), so why am I returning now? Because of a recent announcement about this little-known place with some rooms arranged as a “Colonial Spanish Jungle Village” becoming a Marriott Resort . . .

Villa Lapas set up as a “Colonial Jungle Village”
in the Transitional Forests of Carara National Park.

Marriott to add Villa Lapas to their “Autograph Collection”

The Tico Times Article where I read about it has too many junky ads!
So I’m copying the parts about Villa Lapas below which will be easier to read and I eliminated the parts about a water resort they are expanding in Golfito in the South Pacific of Costa Rica.

Entrance to the Colonial Jungle Village section of rooms. (Not all of rooms here.)

“The newly announced Villa Lapas Autograph Collection and Marina Bahía Golfito Autograph Collection properties will start welcoming guests in Q4 2025, according to Marriott. The planned additions will complement Enjoy Group’s existing portfolio of Autograph Collection hotels in Costa Rica – the acclaimed El Mangroove and Punta Islita resorts.

“Marriott Chief Development Officer for the Caribbean and Latin America, Laurent de Kousemaeker, hailed the deal as reaffirming Marriott’s commitment to further elevating Costa Rica as a premier global tourism hotspot. He also noted the robust appeal of the Autograph Collection brand amongst travelers and hospitality developers alike in identifying one-of-a-kind accommodations.

“Nestled within lush rainforest just outside Tárcoles, the 86-room Villa Lapas property will immerse guests within breathtaking natural vistas unique to Costa Rica. The hotel will offer spacious event facilities, an updated restaurant and bar, state-of-the-art fitness amenities, an outdoor pool and abundant outdoor recreation spaces.

“The new hotel will be a haven for travelers looking for scenic drives, whale watching, biking adventures, fishing or relaxing on the nearby beaches,” de Kousemaeker envisioned.” (CHARLIE NOTE: They are 30 minutes from the beaches of Jaco and other nearby beaches, but a long drive to Uvita for the best whale-watching.) 🙂

Great Egret on the Tarcoles River as one of the photos I made there in 2015.

Improvements Made Since My Last Visit

  • They now have “Treetops Bridges” they call a Skyway Tour on their property which is popular with tourist and I kind of enjoy, though not good for birding as it is usually noisy with people that scares off the birds! 🙂
  • They have also added a “Jungle River Wagon Tour” in a tractor-pulled trailer that can drive up creeks and cross a river and go to other backwoods places like ones I’ve been on at Danta Corcovado Lodge and at Arenal Lodge. Another tourist-pleaser! 🙂
  • And of course Marriott will add some plushness to the rooms and build a totally new restaurant and bar + Exercise Room, plus who knows what else?! Other than increased prices! 🙂

So basically I just wanted to see one of my first adventure places one more time before it became an expensive Marriott! Just 2 nights with 2 or 3 guided birding tours and I will check out their new treetops bridge but probably not the tractor ride. And that first time I went in a rental car which I will not do this time (Walter takes me), so I will not repeat the drive up the mountain to the Pura Vida Gardens, which if you go in a car is worth visiting. See my above linked Trip Gallery for photos of the gardens & waterfall. 🙂

Villa Lapas is on a hill above the mouth of the Tarcoles River on the Pacific Coast.
Photo was made at a roadside overlook above the hotel in 2015.

¡Pura Vida!

Expect blog posts from there over the next few days or week! 🙂

Visit the “Laid Back” Tarcoles Fishing Village where I snapped these roof-top dogs on my 2015 visit. 🙂
Along with photos of fishermen with their catches and some mending nets, plus the most Macaws there!

And disclaimer or explanation about birding and nature photography in the Carara/Tarcoles area:

  • I have also been once to nearby Cerro Lodge which is much simpler but had many more birds on property and provided a better birding guide for Carara on my later visit there than Villa Lapas did in 2015.
  • But my favorite lodge in the area is hands down: Macaw Lodge on the same road off the highway as Villa Lapas, but a much longer drive to the top of the mountain behind Carara Park with much greater immersion in nature in my opinion! Plus more birds and other wildlife! It is worth the longer drive! I’ve been there twice and will go again!
  • Hopefully this visit tomorrow will lift my opinion of Villa Lapas for my nature photography – we will see! 🙂 “Proof’s in the pudding!” Or in my photos in this case! 🙂

2 Replies to “Villa Lapas”

  1. What a beautiful place to stay! Of course I would like it when the Marriott is finished.

    Thank you for a wonderful journey!


    1. 🙂 “Charming” is a good description with some of the rooms in a colonial jungle village, and even though I did not photograph as many birds my first visit, I still liked the place and hope that Marriott doesn’t plush it up to unaffordable! Plus the Pura Vida Gardens a 30 minute drive uphill from this hotel is really nice with some Pacific and waterfall vistas! And that is in addition to their hotel activities and the national park next door plus the nearby Tarcoles River boat tours!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *