Hotel Casa Chameleon Mal Pais
What We Love
- All villas have private balconies with infinity pools overlooking the ocean
- Stunning dark wood and brightly colored decor includes four-poster beds, exotic South Asian art and animal print pillows and throw rugs
- Wine and from-scratch gourmet cuisine (think grilled shrimp with tender mahi mahi, a tropical salad tossed in rosemary goat cheese vinaigrette) in the open-air restaurant
- Villas have two powerful rain showers (one indoor, one outdoor)
What To Know
- The resort is big on romance: Children 17 and under are not permitted and there are no TVs, phones, WiFi in the villas
- If you're renting a car for the transfer, it's recommended to have one with four-wheel-drive to climb the steep driveway
- READ MORE: Find your perfect Costa Rica vacation
- A 13 percent room tax per night will be collected by Jetsetter at checkout
- Adults Only
- Eco friendly
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
Like a passport full of stamps, the curiosities collected during the owner’s far-flung travels tell a tale and lend an exotic air to design-forward digs blending dark tropical hardwoods with bright fabrics. While statues of Hindu deities and outlandish lampshades abound, Costa Rican craftsmanship is also on display in the hardwood pool bar built by local artisans.
Bed and Bath
Spacious bedrooms drip with bric-a-brac and style; all feature four-poster beds, exotic South Asian art and animal print pillows and throw rugs. Balancing out the wilder elements is a tasteful array of contemporary hardwood furnishings atop travertine and natural stone flooring. Vaulted ceilings are finished in teak, and fold-away glass doors open to enormous patios offering private infinity pools. In the bathrooms two powerful rain showers (one indoor, one outdoor) warm guests to the core, and the Aromas para el Alma bath products are local and organic.
Guests enjoy mouthwatering, from-scratch meals on private balconies or at the romantic, open-concept restaurant, where executive chef, Pabrö, whips up dishes that fuse modern culinary concepts and indigenous recipes. Items of note include enormous grilled shrimp with tender mahi mahi, a tropical salad tossed in rosemary goat cheese vinaigrette, and a luscious tres leches with strawberries and cream for dessert. Downstairs, a bamboo and hardwood cocktail lounge overlooks an inviting sapphire pool surrounded by tropical foliage — the perfect spot for enjoying a guaro sour as the orange sun dips beneath the Pacific.
In the Area
In freewheeling Mal País, a seemingly infinite stretch of rock and white sand beach on the remote Nicoya Peninsula, the inhabitants are serious about community and sustainability. Saturday afternoons are reserved for the beachfront farmers market, to which locals bring fresh fruits, veggies, instruments, pets and toothy smiles. The tastiest restaurants include the sky-high surf ’n’ turf spot Brisas del Mar (order the tenderloin) and a beachfront Mexican delight, Habaneros. Breakfast burritos at Playa Carmen’s The Bakery fuel perfect days of surfing, sea kayaking and snorkeling at a hidden cove locals refer to as the Secret Beach.
How to Get There
I HIGHLY recommend Casa Chameleon Mal Pais for couples or singles looking to have a relaxing, amazing vacation. My husband and I spent a blissful week here for our honeymoon and loved every second.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a complementary fresh juice and warm towel. After a six hour long car ride that was a warm welcome. We stayed in the Ultra Villa, which all the staff said was their favorite and I could see why! Amazing views of the ocean, big personal plunge pool, waterfall shower and giant tub in the bathroom. The room was cleaned and serviced daily. The only small complaint I had was that the water didn't get completely hot. But the jungle was hot so that was sometimes refreshing. For the price, this room was AMAZING. Yes there are a lot of stairs - my husband and I didn't mind. but if you have any issues with stairs I would recommend asking for a room closer to the pool.
I can't say enough good things about the service - Esteban, Kalor, Carissa and Katherine were amazing to make our stay memorable. We ordered our ATV through the hotel which ended up costing more than going to the ATV place directly - but honestly, I wanted convenience - they brought the ATV directly to the hotel so we didn't have to do anything. That made the extra money totally worth it.
The food is absolutely incredible. My husband and I actually only ended up eating one dinner out of 5 in town because we loved the food so much at Casa Chameleon. We'd start with made to order cocktails (which are so good) at Happy Hour and then have dinner on site! Twice out of the time that we were there they did "family style dinner" one fish and one BBQ. I highly recommend you stay for those dinners. They aren't family style. They are 5-7 course chef tasting menus. I read on another review that the food is pricey but we live in Los Angeles & it is comparable and absolutely worth it. The breakfast that is included in your stay is BEYOND so we ate breakfast there evert day. Best plantains I had in Costa Rica.
Finally, they went above and beyond for me. I'm gluten free and on the first day I ordered ceviche. They brought it without chips since the chips had gluten in them. The next day I got the ceviche and they had let me know they had special chips ordered for me specifically that were gluten free. They also made sure to accommodate every meal I had n site there and make sure there were GF options. That sort of small stuff really makes for a great stay.
I would 100 percent go back in a heart beat!
We just returned from a 6 night- 7 day vacation at Casa Chameleon Mal Pais, and we wish we could have stayed longer!
Traveling to Casa Chameleon was an amazing adventure, we landed in Juan Santamaria international airport (SJO) and walked to the Sansa terminal (a 5 minute outside walk from the main airport). From their we took a much smaller plan into Tambor, the flight was about 35 minutes . Tambor to Casa Chameleon was about an 45 minute drive, prior to our trip we had the front desk at the hotel book. The drive from Tambo was very bumpy, but it was a great chance to see the area. Roads in this area are very rough, but don't let that deter you from staying here.
Now about Casa Chameleon hotel: we absolutely LOVED our stay here and will be back! Our villa was called Pochote and had a fantastic view of the ocean. The villa had the retractable doors, so we could enjoy the outside while inside our room. The bathroom is huge with a large walk in shower and outdoor shower. My favorite spot in the entire villa was on the hammock watching the wildlife fly and swing all around. The one thing I will note, if you are not able to climb stairs this villa is not for you, it was a little bit of a hike every day to get to the restaurant and front desk.
Hotel Restaurant: The food is absolutely fantastic! We ate here for breakfast, lunch, & dinner almost every day and never had a meal we didn't love. We want to give a huge shout out to Esteban, Steven, and Kaylor, for making our stay so enjoyable. I honestly don't think there is enough space in this review to praise them! They went above and beyond to ensure we had a fantastic time, by remembering what drinks we liked, our food preferences, and great conversation!
We did not walk to the beach because it is a little bit of a hike, however the front desk gals Katherine and Klarissa made arrangements for us when ever we needed to leave the hotel. A few of the things we did during our stay, we ventured into the town of Santa teresa, took surfing lessons (fantastic experience), ate at Banana Beach restaurant for lunch, and went to Tortuga Island.
We highly recommend staying at Casa Chameleon!
The place is amazing for anyone looking for an off the grid relaxing vacation! Upon our late arrival, the entire staff had already memorized our names and had room service brought up to our room waving the room service fee due to our late arrival and long day of travel. The staff is extremely attentive and personal, knowing everyones names and going out of their way to get to know us to better serve us! The rooms are just like the pictures super beautiful!
You can book activities right at the hotel and they do all the arrangements, the activities were not badly priced compared to other vacations we have went on . We went Deep sea fishing which was half the price then my pervious vacations, we were able to bring what we caught back to the hotel and the Chef made this amazing dinner for us. We absolutely loved every meal we had at the hotel.
I do recommend renting an ATV while you're there, best way to get around and easier than a vehicle, the roads are a little crazy but part of "off the grid" experience.
They do have stairs to all rooms separating the rooms to different levels, allowing for more privacy and for us, a more romantic vacation.
The dinner parties are very fun, meeting people all over the world over a beautiful dinner.
Absolutely amazing vacation, food, views and hospitality!
You get to this hotel and think that everything will be nice and fun, specially after reading the reviews, well what a mistake!!!! we had one of the worst stays ever. Management is horrible.
First as soon as we arrived in we went to the bar, got offered a “Special” for happy hour, well it was a scam, drink was $5 more than the regular menu and never got offer a second drink or got the “Happy Hour discount”
The the hotel was supposed to make a reservation for a Tour, they did it for the wrong date, if I did not asked about our ride we would have lost the day, nobody care about this issue.
Another day we asked for breakfast room service at 7am, I was very specific about the time since we had a tour to take, they charge $10 for delivery. We were ok with this but them 30 minutes later no food, more excuses from the hotel. Ridiculous,
Then one night we had dinner at the hotel, they only had 1 guy working the tables/bartending and doing room service. Just 1. The poor guy kept apologizing. Well the manager the next day came with a long boring story about not having enough staff, something that we as guest shouldn’t have to worry about. Again he should had been there helping. He never showed up to the property to apologize or do anything about it.
And the worst part was that in our room, we were in a large one, next to the jungle, well last night at the property we heard some noise and thought it was some monkeys or some animal, well then the movement kept getting closer and guess what it was? An insane/crazy person starring at us and looking all crazy, we had to run to the lobby and wait for the police to arrived. No security at all in the premises, just 1 guard at the entrance.
Totally horrible experience, Santa Teresa was so pretty but hotel was a mess.
I so wanted to give this place 5 stars. Unfortunately there are some areas to improve which I will cover at the end of my review.
MALPAIS is almost off the grid, a 6 hour drive from San Jose, there are no paved roads the last 45 minutes to town. We took the 25 minute SANSA flight to Tambor and was greeted by Jose an employee at Casa Chemeleon, who drove us about an hour to the hotel (cost $65/each way for ground transportation).
The area is very run down, and there is a steep unpaved hill to negotiate getting to the property, but once we arrived at Casa Chemeleon it was a beautiful oasis which holds 10 villas, a bar, and small dining area. There is a community pool near the bar with good views of the pacific, and each villa is afforded privacy via the foliage canopy, and each have a private pool and partal views of the ocean. Note there are no phones or TV, but all guest get free wifi, so you are never totally unplugged. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS HOTEL FOR ANYONE WITH MOBILITY ISSUES DUE TO STAIRS REQUIRED TO REACH VILLAS.
We stayed in Villa Sol, which is close to the amenities (limited stairs), however there is a high wall seperating it from the road and when sitting outside can hear cars, ATV and motorcycles periodically. Not a big deal, but worth noting when requesting a room.
The staff are all great, and did a wonderful job! We enjoyed our conversations with everyone at the property. The hotel provides complimentary breakfast and a 2:1 drink happy hour daily, which was nice.
Once or twice a week they throw a dinner party for all the guests, which is a great way to meet other couples at the resort. It was a very nice time, but as we came to find out most things in MalPais are overpriced for what you get (iincluding the dinner party at $130 usd per couple).
Overall I came away disappointed by our trip, as we had hoped to have more local foods and culture (the main restaurant nearby is a french bakery, and the hotel restaurant had limited local food on the menu). When we travel, we like to get something we can't get at home, thats the whole reason to travel!
We live in South Florida and are accustomed to tourist areas, but comparing it with other tourist areas it had all the negatives (expensive- like $20 usd for a bottle of sunscreen, tourist driven events/foods, etc) but none of the positives (accessibility, amenities, local foods, etc). Overall, it was more expensive than south beach.
We were glad we tried the hotel, but there are much better places in the world to visit for the cost (speaking of Malpais in general not the hotel). Had the hotel been in a better location like Hawaii or St Lucia, it probably gets 5 stars.
Somethings Casa Chemeleon could do better (as a way to offset issues of the area):
1) Purchase two new vehicles owned by the hotel with hotel logo, etc. Offer complimentary car service for local trips to town (we had to pay $10-20 each way to be driven only a few miles). Use 2nd car to transport passengers to/from the airport at a lower price ($50/per couple). The free advertising of the vehicle and additional luxury amenity would likely drive demand for Casa Chemeleon and make the owner more money overall!
2) lower the nickel and dime approach. The hotel has several add on costs and/or try to upsell, which I wasn't a fan. Would have rather paid a small resort fee per day ($20/usd) in exchange for more complimentary services (car service to town, room service, etc).
3) Communication App. Since there is no phone service, Provide a mobile phone app to allow guest to communicate with staff without having to leave their room (order room service, coordinate travel or excursion event, etc). Not a big deal and probably not feasible, but would take service at Casa Chemeleon to another level.