luxury Arenal Volcano hotel

One of our correspondents was just working on a guidebook for Costa Rica and has been keeping up with new hotels that have opened or stepped up since our first round of reviews. So we’ve been making additions to our luxury hotels in Costa Rica, including two new entries for the formerly blank Arenal Volcano area.

Making a big splash in the area is the opening of The Springs (pictured above), a striking villas-style hotel on a hillside, boasting its own hot springs, access to a river running through the region, and this:

“Secluded, exclusive, and architecturally stunning, The Springs is blessed with truly outstanding views of Arenal Volcano’s awesome and almost perfectly symmetrical lava-streaked cone, around which every superb vista in this fine hotel has been constructed.”

Follow this link for a full review of The Springs, which at press time was not completely finished. For now you can get in on opening rates.

Previously the hotel and hot springs complex known as Tabacón had the high end of the market near Arenal to itself, which from everything we heard and saw meant, “We don’t have to try very hard.” So we were hesitant to recommend the hotel, even if staying there did save you the exhorbitant admission to the hot springs (currently $45 at night or $70 for an all-day pass with lunch).

Fortunately, an ongoing renovation is more than just window dressing and the reported $2.5 million budget has been spent wisely. The lowest-priced rooms should still be avoided, but at least they now come with upgraded tech goodies.

“The most luxurious Superior Rooms do not offer Arenal views (four new suites, to be built in 2009, will combine these expanded amenities with panoramic volcano vistas), but are instead surrounded with primary rainforest, a wonder to behold from your private porch or enormous marble hot tub that dominates the impressive suites. Expansive and elegant, with handmade wooden furnishing, beautiful lighting and modern entertainment systems, these rooms render the resort truly world class.”

See the full review of Tabacón Grand Spa and Thermal Resort.