San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arenal Report

Thanks to Jeff and Lydia Van Mill, Toad Hall, the famous landmark on the road to La Fortuna, has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of destruction, by far surpassing its former glory. As with the Blue Zone Spa and the Hotel de Montaña Lago Arenal, its genesis came from someone else’s dream. Those of us who have been here a while knew the original Toad Hall and were saddened by its decline and virtual extinction. 

Enter Jeff and Lydia, whose artistic creativity enabled them to see beyond the rack and ruin and envision the potential of the natural beauty overlooking Lake Arenal. The phenomenal transformation began just eight months ago, and includes a beautiful new infinity pool nestled among five uniquely designed units, three of which can accommodate families. Our favorite is the “Jungle Suite,” which provides kitchen amenities and fantastic views of the jungle sloping down to the river and lakeshore, along which there are hiking trails.

Lydia’s former occupation as a designer of hotel rooms, plus her and Jeff’s years of working in the world of antiques, are beautifully expressed in an eclectic blend of Costa Rica’s natural stone and wood with antiques appropriate to the decor. Toad Hall’s well-appointed gift shop offers the excellent work of Costa Rican artisans, while the expanded and nicely renovated restaurant currently serves breakfast and lunch by Chef Scott of La Fortuna’s Lava Lounge and Gecko Gourmet.

Jeff and Lydia have issued an open invitation to Arenal-area folks to a Grand Opening celebration on Saturday, May 19, starting at 6 p.m. Food, drink, strolling mariachis and friendship will be featured gratis, as this celebration also marks Jeff’s 50th birthday. For additional information, email or call 8534-3605.

Guanacaste Province Animal Welfare Foundation (G-PAW) will be sponsoring a spay/neuter clinic on Sunday, May 20, at Barrio El Carmen’s salon communal.

The cost per animal is {10,000 ($20). Donations and animal sponsorships will be accepted gratefully. For more information, contact Judy Reisman at 2695-6652.

–William & Jean Priest

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