Costa Rica is without doubt an adventure destination. After we had spent 12 days touring the country, seeing and doing the most incredible things, we needed some down time. After googling ‘gay Puerto Viejo’ we found gay owned and gay friendly Hotel Banana Azul. This was exactly what we needed!
The Background of Hotel Banana Azul – Puerto Viejo
After spending time at a gay Hawaiian vacation retreat, the owner of Hotel Banana Azul, Colin, was inspired to bring something similar to Costa Rica.
He spent a lot of time researching for the perfect place. He decided that although undeveloped, the Caribbean side was the place to be. This was for a number of reasons, including the tropical vibe, and the Bohemian feel.
Colin bought the land in 2004 when it was a cow field. Two years later, he had transformed the place from cow field to the beautiful Hotel Banana Azul.
Initially this was intended to be exclusively gay, the start of ‘gay Puerto Viejo’ perhaps? However, over the years Colin felt that this was not necessary and opened the hotel up to anyone. Naturally, its history still lends to the hotel being labelled and welcoming as a ‘gay hotel’.
Relaxing by the pool 🙂
About the hotel
We would describe Hotel Banana Azul as a ‘relaxed luxury’ style hotel. All the services and features of a luxury hotel are there, but there remains a cool and relaxed Caribbean vibe.
There are 22 rooms in the main hotel and 4 new stunning villas (Villas Banana Verde). Over the next few years Colin plans to create more of these villas which would be perfect for groups of friends or two couples visiting.
The rooms in the main hotel are predominantly decorated with beautiful varnished wood. The one we stayed in had a very large terrace looking over both the pool and ocean.
The Villas are on another level. The villa we stayed in was like a showhome. It was two stories, had an entire jungle garden complete with jungle shower, a plunge pool, outdoor day bed and so much more. We could have lived here, especially as it had a fully functioning kitchen and living area too!
The hotel is situated on the beach and is 5 minutes away from the main town. This allows for some privacy while still having access to everything the town has to offer.
The grounds make use of the Costa Rican jungle and the pool is surrounded by lush rainforest.
The main hotel room terrace.
What makes Hotel Banana Azul gay friendly?
Colin likes the idea that Hotel Banana Azul is ‘straight friendly’. This is a concept which we loved.
Clearly, being gay owned gives you the impression the place will be gay friendly, but Colin has gone beyond that. New staff are asked explicitly at the interview stage if they have any practises or beliefs that mean they would have an issue with an LGBT guest. If not, they then sign an agreement confirming that this will never happen, and the position is theirs.
However, if they answer yes, then the position is not for them.
Some of the staff are gay too. Colin further explained that even though many Costa Ricans may have conservative personal beliefs, they remain just that – personal. Costa Rica doesn’t have the same “machismo” culture as the rest of Latin America. In fact, it has earned the nickname of “gay LA”, with the LA standing for Latin America!
We truly felt 100% comfortable here to be ourselves.
The gardens and outdoor shower!
What did we love about our stay?
The food and drink
The food! Every meal was incredible from breakfast through to dinner.
Each day had 3 standard options for breakfast, and one special (changing daily) option. The breakfast burrito was one of our favorites!
For dinner we enjoyed fresh fish and steak. Both were equally tasty.
We also liked the fact that the soup and salad bar is always included. Sion is always hungry and hates waiting for his food so this was ideal for him!
Special mention for the brownies! They sell brownies for a few dollars and they are some of the best we have had. When you order a meal for lunch, you also get a mini brownie on the side! This was a great touch for us and our sweet tooth!
We have to mention the drinks. We don’t know what they put in them but they were all delicious. The hibiscus mojito was divine but also much more potent than we realised! We had a surprise when we stood up at the end of the meal!
We were blown away by the staff. The first introduction to the property was thorough and very helpful. All the staff were very happy, friendly and clearly very well trained.
Training is something Colin believes is very important. And it has definitely paid off!
Like we have already mentioned. You have all the aspects of a luxury hotel but with a laid back, bohemian vibe. This really worked well for us and by the end of our visit we were relaxed to the max.
There is a reason that Hotel Banana Azul is number 1 on Tripadvisor (at the time of writing!). We are confident that it will stay that way. We are also confident that when you visit Puerto Viejo you make this your number one choice of accommodation. You won’t be disappointed!