Our Story

Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa is a family-run business. When we purchased our 870-acre property bordering the Arenal Volcano in 1972, it was an abandoned cattle ranch. The Costa Rican Electrical Institute (ICE) was building the hydroelectric dam to create the Arenal reservoir – now one of the country’s most important sources for electric energy. This was only four years after the Arenal Volcano, once thought to simply be a mountain, suddenly erupted (1968) after centuries of inactivity.

We began planting macadamia trees on our land, and preserving the remnants of natural primary rainforest. We brought back cattle to some of the grazing land, and 300 acres of damaged pastureland was planted with eucalyptus and Honduran pine; these plantations are still in place today.

In the early 1970s, scientists from the Smithsonian Institution in the USA began monitoring seismic activity at Arenal Volcano. They saw that our property was an excellent and safe place to observe and study volcanic activity. It is close to the volcano, yet protected from any danger by the deep canyon cut by the Agua Caliente River.

We built a small lodge to accommodate the groups of scientists, students and occasional tourists who came to visit the area of La Fortuna, Costa Rica. These were the beginnings of what is today Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa. The 29,692-acre Arenal Volcano National Park was founded later in 1991, encompassing our property into the national park and Arenal Conservation Area.

As tourism developed, we increased access to the property and improved our facilities. Today, the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa has 48 comfortable rooms in buildings spread throughout the property and two Costa Rican vacation villas. Hotel facilities include the restaurant and bar, observation deck, swimming pool and jacuzzi, Observatory Spa, large reception and lobby area, gardens and seven miles of well-maintained trails for hiking, bird watching, horseback riding and mountain biking.

We strive to follow environmentally-friendly practices, keeping our operation as simple as possible with a light ecological footprint so as to reduce our impact on our surroundings and to help protect our natural resources. We participate in the Costa Rican Tourism Board’s Certificate for Sustainable Tourism program.

Welcome to Arenal Observatory Lodge. We wish you a pleasant stay with us and an unforgettable experience in the Costa Rican rainforest by the Arenal Volcano.

The Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa sits in a private nature reserve in the heart of one of Costa Rica’s numerous natural areas. Rich volcanic soils support primary and secondary rainforest. Waterfalls and crystalline rivers offer a sparkling jungle refreshment for the soul. 7 miles of a well-marked, manicured trail system provides easy access to the property’s breathtaking natural beauty where a wide variety of plants, animals and more than 500 spices of birds can be observed.