For the budget-conscious backpacker looking for a party, there are no sweeter words than these: “All you can drink craft beer.”
Starting at $89 a person, the Volcano Brewing Company offers stunning views of Lake Arenal, plenty of things to do and, the main attraction, all four of Costa Rica’s craft brews on an ever-flowing tap. The price includes a double occupancy room, all meals and all drinks. Lakeview rooms and suites are also available for $99 and $109, respectively.
The restaurant’s food is “farm fresh,” pulling ingredients from the hotel’s garden and local farmers, and in a land replete with the cheaply-made Imperial and Pilsen light lagers, the reasonably priced craft beers are something of a rarity.
“You do the math,” said brewmaster J.P. Cazedessus, sipping on the company’s signature Witch’s Rock Pale Ale. A self-proclaimed “hop-head,” the traditional English ale is Cazedessus’s favorite of the four beers on tap.
The pale ale is brewed on site, along with the darker, smoother Gato Malo Dark Ale, using pure nearby rainforest water and wheat and hops imported from Europe. Both beers are unfiltered, clouding them with live yeast, a technique designed to maintain more of the natural flavor.
“People’s palates are well educated,” said Cazedessus. “People are used to good beer and we are trying to create a taste they are familiar with.”
Cazedessus’s role in the hotel extends beyond the brewing. An avid windsurfer, he settled in Lake Arenal in 1990, drawn by the area’s legendary winds. He opened the Tilawa, a windsurfing hotel, but when the sport fell flat in the early 2000s so did the hotel’s business.
Though windsurfing is past its prime, Lake Arenal is still ranked as one of the best spots for the sport in the world, and the hotel staff is more than happy to book a windsurfing or kiteboarding lesson with the area’s largest wind sport company, Tico Wind. The main instructor, Tom Rentschler, prides himself on a perfect record for getting people up on a board, claiming that he can get even small children and the elderly out on the water after just a standard lesson.
For those jumping on the windsurfing-is-lame bandwagon, Costa Rica’s largest lake still has plenty to offer. Jet skis and sailboats are available for rent along with several fishing guide services. Kayaking and wakeboarding are also options in the area.
Hotel guests savoring the lake views from afar can still keep busy on the property itself. The huge chunk of land boasts a pool, tennis court and a large concrete skate park. People looking to relax can kick back in the impressive, indoor, jungle-themed Jacuzzi or book a massage at the front desk.
The hotel is colorful and full of indigenous murals and statues. And while the draw undeniably lies in its all-inclusivity and the area’s activities, guests can be assured that once they have eaten and drunk themselves into a stupor, they will be greeted by a clean, comfortable room at the end of the night.
The Volcano Brewing Company is located on Route 142 circling Lake Arenal. It is 8 km north of Tilarán on the lake’s western shore.
Rooms start at $89 per person with lake view rooms for $99 and suites for $109. Children under 18 are $49 per person. The rates are all-inclusive for meals and alcohol. All-inclusive day passes are also available for $79.