Trek to the beach takes 10 minutes and isn't paved
Current construction and some units haven't been updated
No kids under 16 allowed (a pro for some)
Lots of steps around the property
Not much within easy walking distance (Manuel Antonio National Park is an hour's walk)
Makanda by the Sea is an upscale and romantic boutique hotel nestled into the hills of Manuel Antonio. Many of the 27 Villas and Studios are currently under construction, so there's a fair bit of noise and some of them haven't been updated yet. Villa 12 is the newest and most luxurious unit, with a private infinity-edge pool, two bedrooms, and a modern kitchen. All of the rooms have ocean views and come with a free daily delivered breakfast. The communal pool and adjacent Sunspot restaurant get high marks from past guests -- but there are complaints about the uncomfortable hike to a small beach. Kids under the age of 16 aren't allowed, so families should check out nearby Shana Hotel.
Secluded and romantic, with few indoor communal spaces
Guests must be announced at a security booth before entering the intimate and secluded property, built on a hill overlooking lush rain forest grounds (it's difficult, if not impossible, to see the neighbors from the hotel) and a harbor of the Pacific Ocean in Manuel Antonio. Steps are a theme here, and some of the Villas and Studios are closer to the communal pool, restaurant, and small lobby than others. In the rainy season, there isn't much space to congregate indoors and the outdoor Sunspot restaurant provides only tarps for coverage overhead. The lobby is sophisticated with a large Pollack-inspired painting, paisley printed armchairs, and huge floor-to-ceiling windows that let in natural light and jungle views. It's a room for checking in and little else. Kiddos under age 16 aren't allowed, so the majority of visitors here are older couples or honeymooners.
Off of a paved and winding road that dead ends at Parador Resort and Spa
Makanda by the Sea is fully set up for those who want to check in and never leave the property, but those who do want to explore should bring a car or be prepared to walk up and down hilly roads without sidewalks. The property can be difficult to spot, as it's designed to be secluded in the rain forest, but look for a sign on the right hand side of the road when driving towards Parador Resort and Spa. Expect a 50-minute walk or eight-minute drive to Manuel Antonio National Park and Beach. Playa Biesanz is a solid 15-minute walk (uphill on the way back) or a two-minute drive. If you keep driving past the hotel, you'll eventually run into Parador Resort and Spa at the top of a hill. Neighboring hotels include La Mansion Inn and Issimo Suites Boutique Hotel and Spa. Parking at Makanda is free and easy, with available spots in front of many of the Villas and Studios.
Villas and Suites with ocean views -- one has a private pool
There are 27 Villas and Suites at Makanda by the Sea, many of them are under construction. Decor varies, with the yet-to-be-updated units looking a bit dated with tropical print couch cushions and wicker furniture. Some have vaulted ceilings, kitchenettes, and panoramic ocean views. Each has air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, ocean views, and a private outdoor space. Villa 12 was the most recently constructed and has an incredible wow factor: gorgeous ocean views from the private infinity pool, two bedrooms, and a full kitchen with modern appliances. Finishes are done in hard woods and elegant fabrics. There's a sectional sofa in front of a flat-screen TV. The bathroom has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a private area of the rainforest (no neighbors means no privacy issues, though there are blinds). A rain showerhead includes rocks and blue lights built into the floor.
Sunspot restaurant, infinity-edge pool, private beach access, and free breakfast delivered to rooms
Features at Makanda by the Sea cater to romance and relaxation. Each day starts with a fresh breakfast delivered to guests' doors at a pre-arranged time: coffee, juice, fruit, and dishes like juevos rancheros are common. Sunspot bar and restaurant next to the pool gets accolades for friendly and efficient service for lunch, dinner, happy hours, and specialty coffees and cocktails throughout the day. Tables and chairs are set up between an elegant bar and the swimming pool on a wooden deck that overlooks the rain forest and Pacific Ocean. However, tarps overhead don't do much to block the rain if there's a shower. The infinity-edge pool has more gorgeous ocean views and there are floating noodles for guests to borrow. Chic sun loungers topped with white cushions look European. A second pool was added after our visit. Private access to a public beach is also offered here, but the trek downhill (then back up) can be too difficult for some guests. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property.
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