Senda Monteverde Costa Rica Ecotourism

Our room at the Senda Monteverde Costa Rica Resort. This sustainable luxury hotel is a perfect resting place in the middle of the Monteverde Cloud Forest and attached to the Aguti Reserve. | For Animals For Earth

Senda Monteverde Costa Rica is an absolutely beautiful resort nestled into the side of the mountains of Costa Rica’s cloud forest. 

If you’re imagining yourself staying inside of a cloud forest and thinking, “Wow, that would be unreal…”

Well yeah, it’s unreal!  I love it so much and especially because we stayed at Senda Monteverde

Simple idea: Stay in an eco-conscious resort when you travel

The location is nestled up against the edge of the Aguti Reserve.  You honestly feel like you’re up in the depths of the mountains, with beautiful views over Monteverde.  But you’re actually close enough to walk to various restaurants and activities if you want to.  It’s a beautiful blend of “getting away” yet having “everything at your finger tips”.  (Although you can walk, we did rent a car, which I highly recommend if you’re comfortable driving in a spanish speaking country, on the right side of the road.  Having a car gives you the flexibility to explore everything that you’d like to see.  We rented it at the airport in San Jose.  If you would like more details about that, you can read that post here soon.)

Senda Monteverde calls itself a “Sustainable Luxury Hotel”, and it’s one of 10 resorts owned by the Cayuga Collection (as of the time this post was written).  In talking with the staff, they really felt Cayuga was leading the way in this new type of hotel, combining high end amenities with conscious operating and design decisions.  Here are a couple of the things that have me obsessed with the Senda Monteverde Resort.  I 100% recommend staying here if you travel to Costa Rica.

1. Farm to Table Food

Their farm to table philosophy is so cool to see in action.  Sourcing and sharing local specialties really gave us the chance to see what the staff believed was special about the local culture.  And they were right.  The food and drinks were amazing.

The restaurant is not fully vegan (had it been fully vegan, I know that Shawn would not have agreed to go to this resort, so I take the little wins ;-).  The cool thing about Senda Monteverde is that they cater the menu to each individual person for each meal.  So if you’re like me and have specific food allergies (I need vegetarian and gluten free), they work around them to make sure you still eat a nice, freshly prepared meal from the chef.  The menus for each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are unique and diverse.  And breakfast was included with our room stay!

2. Perfect Location

I mentioned this a bit before, but the location is perfect.  You’re up a small road that takes you into a hidden spot attached to the Aguti Reserve.  The resort is not huge.  It’s big enough to explore, but small enough to feel special and private.  The grounds are very well maintained, with beautiful local flowers, plants and trees.  There are tons of great spots to sit and read, journal, or meditate without other people around.  And the aguti (imagine a squirrel and a rabbit had a baby) were abundant.  They are super fun to watch comfortably playing and searching for food there in the wild.

3. Free Access to Aguti Reserve

This is a super cool perk!  The Aguti Reserve was empty all 4 times we went in to hike.  It’s quiet, with well maintained trails.  The forest is dense and filled with enough trails to feel the thrill of being slightly lost while you hike (my favorite ;-), but still able to find your way back home (with google gps).  

It’s teaming with wildlife.  We didn’t see a ton ourselves, but we heard them.  And we hiked during the day, so early morning would have been better for wildlife viewing.  We did do a night hike booked through Senda with a guide, and we saw the mama and baby sloth in the video, a toucan, and other cool insects.  You can book both morning and night hikes, or wander yourself.  We were glad that we paid for the night guide because we saw and learned about various animals and trees we would not have found on our own.

4. Conscious Amenities

Conscious choices when it comes to the amenities are one of the things that make this resort so special.  I really appreciate how Senda pulls eco conscious thinking into the travel industry.

The “rooms” are basically high end cabins.  Ours had a living room, dining area, small kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom.  They have floor to ceiling windows lining the outside walls, with beautiful views into the nature surrounding.  There’s also a large deck with chairs so that you can sit outside for morning coffee or to read a book.  The inside is mostly wood, with local decor.  They don’t have central heating, but they do have a cozy space heater to warm up when it’s cold.  We were fine with the heater and warm blankets at the end of November. 

5. Vintage Game Room

The lobby area of the resort is in the center of the property.  Inside is a quaint restaurant, a large bar area (complete with indoor gas pit!), and a bright and airy lounge.  They have the lounge chock full of old games.  We taught the kids how to play both Clue and Dominos here!  And we squeezed in quite a few rounds of Uno too. 

I found it exciting that we spent almost every evening playing a game before or after dinner.  It was really nice to spend this kind of time with our kids and not on our phones or laptops.  They also have a bookshelf with books I assume people take and leave.  I enjoyed a British book I found called “The Lemon Tree Cafe”.  It was the perfect addition to those quiet moments with my chocolate and tea relaxing on various benches around property.

6. Incredible staff

The staff – they’re incredible.  Having worked in the hospitality industry for years, I really think the vibe of Senda Monteverde shows how well the staff are treated.  Everyone is happy, friendly, relaxed.  They took the time to make sure we were content, and even to get to know us.  I truly believe they enjoyed playing with Miya and Bauer!  My kids became very attached to them, seeking them out to play games like “hide the flashlight”, or to practice talking in Spanish.  They kept begging the women to take them home to babysit!  Literally, they were trying to broker babysitting deals so they could hang out with them at their homes for the night!  Adorable.

7. Conscious Tour Experiences

The resort concierge options were diverse and interesting.  The staff were happy to sit with us and work through our interests.  I had a lot of questions about various tours and how ethical and conscious they were.  It’s become hard for me to travel because I’m constantly thinking about the impact an experience could have on the environment, the people, or the animals.  It can be really difficult to find ethical options among what is generally offered up to tourists.

It was nice to hear that the hotel owners had vetted all of the operators they use to make sure they aligned with the hotel’s conscious philosophy.  I think the reality of Monteverde is that most everything is consciously focused.  It made it easy to make reservations and enjoy without worrying the whole time.

A couple of notes about excursions.  Most of the named basic tours are crowded, and that just comes with the territory of visiting a very popular place.  But that’s also the benefit of being at Senda and having that private space and the Aguti Reserve to explore without the crowds.  I’d say do the touristy things (Sky Walk Hanging Bridges, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Horseback Riding, Don Juan Coffee and Chocolate) but leave plenty of time to explore in your “aguti backyard”.

One note.  The Don Juan Coffee and Chocolate Tour is something I actually do recommend.  The tour was great, detailed and informative.  We learned a lot, saw an actual coffee plantation, and got to try very yummy coffee and chocolate.  The only downside to this tour was at the very beginning.  They have oxen strapped to a cart to pull tourists up and down a lane.  The thought is that they’re showing how coffee was farmed on this plantation years ago.  But sadly at this point it’s unnecessary for those oxen to live a life pulling a heavy cart up and down a tiny space for tourist photos.  That’s my only complaint.  Hopefully with time the market will say no to that photo and that part of the tour will be removed, leaving the oxen to happily graze in peace.  And the tourists to simply learn and enjoy coffee and chocolate. ;-)

8. Proximity to Santa Elena

This adorable town!  Santa Elena is a super cute little town in Monteverde.  The downtown area is just a few small streets filled with shops, restaurants and a couple of inns.  The main street has a quaint little Catholic Church right in the middle.  We went to Sunday night mass, and it was so cool to see the architecture, listen to mass in Spanish, and just see how it differs from mass here in the US.  This town also has a couple of coffee shops, a handful of restaurants (including my favorite vegan sushi at Sushi Neko!), souvenir shops, local artisan shops (yay!), and a grocery store.  You’ll enjoy walking and exploring here.

Questions:

I hope that if you’re considering Costa Rica, you will give Senda Monteverde a look.  Most everyone we saw only came into the resort for a night or two.  I’m glad that we did it differently and stayed around long enough to relax.  But even if you only have a couple of days, I think you’ll get a lot from being at Senda, exploring the Aguti Reserve and exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I’m happy to share what I saw and learned from our trip.  If you’d like to browse other recommendations from Costa Rica, there will be more posts soon.  Please join our mailing list to receive the final email when everything is uploaded.  Thanks  ..xx

To Book:

If you want to dig into more about Senda Monteverde, their website link is below.

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