Having gone to Cancun recently, it's hard to justify going back to Barcelo Tambor Beach. Barcelo Tambor Beach is an all-inclusive resort situated right next to the local airport. By local airport, I mean a gravelized semi-paved landing strip off the coast of a jungle. We were traveling in late August during the start of the low season with possible rain showers everyday. Nevertheless, we were pumped up for this trip and ready to explore this tropical paradise. When we booked our vacation, we had no idea how far this resort was from San Jose. We thought maybe it would be an hour or two by car, right? Apparently, its a 5 1/2 hour trek by land and water taxi so we decided to fly from San Jose to Tambor on a Sesna via Sansa Regional Air, which has quite convenient and amazing. The views overlooking the mountains of Costa Rica were breathtaking even though my girlfriend and I, who were first time visitors, had to talk over the hum of the engine and get used flying in a small plane. When we arrived at the resort, the weather was hot, humid, and sultry, much warmer than in San Jose. As with any all-inclusive resort, they required us to wear wrist bands during our entire stay. We were one of only a handful of Americans during our stay with locals vacationing and other Spanish speaking guests being much more the norm. The resort had a very open layout with no enclosures which meant that the only place to sit in AC was in the hotel room, the sundry shop, and the on-site casino. The lobby was covered with wooden beams and was very nicely decorated and cozy. Next to it, was the stage area used for nightly performances and activities by the hotel staff. The shows were okay and meant to pass the time in a family friendly setting. The staff were friendly enough but some had difficulty speaking English. The grounds were open and lush and you could hear the macaus caw overhead and the iguanas, raccoons scurry on the pathways. Pretty cool. None of the buildings were higher than three stories and each room had its own outdoor entrance. When we got to our room, we noticed some hair and some blood specks on the sheets of one of the beds (don't ask). We had to have the maid come in and change it...twice. The room was okay without any of the lavish amenities. Think liquid shower gel coming out of a wall unit dispenser. However, we did have a lot of space in the room and since then our rooms were cleaned to our satisfaction thereafter. We also had access to our own little personal patio area from our room through the sliding door. The resort has 3 large connected pools designed with footbridges and access to the pool bar. We took a dip in the pool the first day we had to get used to the heavy chlorine content in the water. The beach was a bit rocky and painful to walk on with some dead logs and natural debris but once we got in the 70 degrees of greenish ocean goodness, we were in heaven. We took advantage of the free body board rentals although all the kayaks were out of service. Nonetheless, swimming in the ocean was one of the highlights of the trip. Dining options were quite limited. There was the central all-you-can-eat buffet style outdoor dining hall which had local food flavors and American food, too. The other dining option was a snack bar serving alcoholic beverages, pizza, hot dogs, and other treats. Finally, we were entitled to make reservations for their dinner only seafood restaurant which doubled up as the discotheque after 10pm, which was only okay. I think the food could have been a lot better but I guess what can you expect for all-inclusive? The resort does also have horseback riding and massage/spa on the premises which was a nice treat. 45 minutes away was Montezuma beach which is a very cool and quiet hippie community and boutique hotels. The outdoor excursions are numerous and I highly, highly recommend the ATV excursion. They take you on a 5 1/2 hour journey through the Costa Rican beaches, jungles, Montezuma town and countryside with an adventurous, no-holds bar guide. Its the best $40 dollars I have ever spent in my life. We also went zip-lining and took a dip in a waterfall which was awesome. Overall, a pretty good trip on a slightly above average resort.
Overall, I would not return to Barcelo Tambor. We didn't have any major problems, there was just nothing particularly nice about this resort. The food was nothing to brag about (but it was an all-inclusive so let's be honest, they are never that great) nor were the rooms particularly nice or comfortable. The pool was pretty nice, but on the weekends completely overcrowded with locals and kids. You can't really lay out on the beach, its very rocky (which I realize is not the hotel's fault). Entertainment options are pretty limited. Overall, we had a good time because we are not the type of people to complain alot and we made the best of it. I would not return to this resort but we absolutely plan to return to Costa Rica. It is so beautiful and the people are so nice! I really don't want this review to discourage people from going to Costa Rica, just perhaps choose another resort.
Pros - remote quiet beach, long for walks, soft black sand; very clean everywhere; great service; all you can possibly need in pools, beach, sports, etc.; rooms - well stocked/spacious/comfortable/view/balcony/complementary room drinks Cons - poor English skills in staff; entertainment catered only for Spanish speaking; very busy with locals (although they all stayed in pool which was nice for us on beach :-)) Best experiences - waterfall visit, west coast sunsets, offroading Tips - if not afraid of offroading, best way to experience area is by 4*4 or ATV; most tours can be accomplished by yourself and non commercial experiences with obviously certain exceptions such as sea fishing and zip lining.
Pictures don't do the resort justice. Barcelo was absolutely beautiful. Staff was friendly. Room was clean with a great view. Food was good but need more variety on buffet.
The hotel was recently remodeled because of an earthquake in the area and it is in great shape. The beds are big and comfortable. The staff is amazingly pleasing. The food was amazing with variety and great taste. This was our 2nd trip to Barcelo Playa Tambor and we are glad we went back. The only complain is that the ONLY smoking area in the whole premises is out at the beach which in my opinion is very extreme being that this is an open layout hotel. They should have smoking areas throughout like most places do. I highly recommend the hotel, the area and Costa Rica in general. At the hotel, look for Edwin, Oscar, Vinicio and Alfonso which will make your trip even more memorable.
I have never been more pleased with a travel experience (service at the hotel, location, food, etc... ) the entire travel package was excellent from the ease of the purchase to the arrival and departure. All of the meals were beyond out expectations, the room and view was more amazing than the pictures could describe and the service was phenominal! I would recommend this trip to everyone! Couldn't be more pleased!
This was our second trip to Barcelo Tambor, the first 6 years ago. There is no other pool like this one. It's awesome. Unfortunately they close it at 7pm, but it is still beautiful and never ending. The resort is very well kept, everything cleaned daily, grounds manicured. The view from the resort and beach are beautiful but the beach is rocky and corse. Not a beach you would lay on or walk barefoot on. The buildings are well maintained and very clean but they are old and sparse. If you want a luxurious room this is not your resort. If you want a place to rest and sleep after a day of exploring and enjoying the pool the room works. The food at the Japanese restaurant and the Steak House are good, not great. Reservations for both begin at 8 am the day of and go very quickly. The buffet and snack bar are clean and fresh but the food is marginal and repetitive. Drinks are local brands, top shelf is additional per drink. When you fly in to San Jose the resort is a 5 hour drive from the airport or a flight on a small local airline (prop planes), both at an additional cost to you. Barcelo Tambor has become a family, kid friendly, kid focused resort. Different from our last visit. It was more adult focused. Most evening entertainment now is for small children. The small casino has become a game room. Unless you are in your room or off the resort in the evening there is no escaping the performances for the children. Costa Rica is absolutely beautiful and well worth the trip. Those who live there are friendly and accommodating.