Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Costa Rica Dreams


I've started my research on Costa Rica. First it starts with an understanding of the regions. What do I want to do? What kind of an experience do I want to have? Once I get a just for that I look at the regions and decide what best fits. When I decide that I start the fun and most difficult part- finding the accommodations. Like I've bragged before, I'm a queen at it. I spent 2 1/2 weeks straight (awesome way to spend my day at work) looking when I went to Maui. 3 FULL days when I went to LA (we had bought the tickets 5 days before leaving so I was on limited time) and well it only took me a day and a half when I booked my Weekend Wine getaway in August.


Places to stay in Costa Rica (the first rough list)

San José, San José + Central Valley

Flights tend to arrive late and leave early from Costa Rica, so there's a good chance you'll be staying overnight in the capital of San José. That proposition becomes much more appealing if you're booked into the Hotel Grano de Oro, about 20 minutes from Juan Santamaría Airport. Two decades ago, Canadian owners Eldon and Lori Cooke bought a century-old mansion in a quiet residential area near La Sabana Park and converted it into this charming 21-room hotel. All rooms have gleaming hardwood floors, wood paneling, regal Edwardian furnishings, divinely comfortable mattresses, and flat-screen TVs; deluxe rooms open onto private patios. Although the hotel has no swimming pool, there are two whirlpool tubs in the rooftop solarium.

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Santa Bárbara , Heredia
Finca Rosa Blanca, a winsome inn and plantation located half an hour north of San José in the central highlands of Costa Rica, has been lauded for its eco-friendly practices, which include the use of solar energy, composting, and water recycling. Quirky details in the 13 guest rooms (all suites), such as hand-painted murals and unusually shaped windows, give the impression of staying at an artistic friend's house. But you still get all the trappings of an elegant hotel, including whirlpool baths and private verandas overlooking the verdant Central Valley. At El Tigre Vestido Restaurant, freshly brewed coffee comes from Finca Rosa Blanca's own organic plantation; mangoes, papayas, avocados, lemons, and guavas are handpicked from the eight acres of tropical gardens that surround the inn. There's also a spring-fed infinity pool with a 12-foot cascading waterfall and a hot tub. For more hands-on relaxation, book a volcanic mud wrap or a coffee body scrub at the intimate El Targua Spa.

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Matapalo, Osa Peninsula

Lapas Rios, the first deluxe eco-lodge to open on the Osa Peninsula, is one of the best wilderness resorts in Costa Rica, in part because of its prime perch on a ridge 350 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Reached by boardwalks above the forest floor, the 16 thatched-roof bungalows are suspended at the rainforest's edge like tree houses complete with canopy beds, spalike bathrooms, and expansive decks with amazing ocean views. Don't be surprised if you're joined by a few wild visitors while lounging outside, such as toucans, howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, and huge morpho butterflies. Animal lovers come here for rainforest hikes, bird watching, ocean kayaking, and horseback riding on deserted beaches, plus yoga classes, massages, and lazing in hammocks

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Chirripó National Park, San José + Central

If Costa Rica was a pioneer in ecotourism, Monte Azul may just redefine it: On-site owners Randy Langendorfer and Carlos Rojas have set new standards for sustainability and style in this remote jungle community. Friends and neighbors supply most of the hotel's needs: Perfectly aged steak, organic vegetables, fresh milk, eggs—even the hotel's uniforms—are produced just down the road. As for the rest, they make or grow it themselves: the artisanal bread, the furniture, the soaps, the shade-grown coffee, the welcome platter of chèvre that comes from their own goats. Not surprisingly, meals at Café Blue are fresh and inventive. Although Monte Azul's considerable charms will most appeal to those who prefer a gentler pace, the hotel has an elegantly bohemian side as well. Originally conceived as an artist's retreat, the hotel hosts its own artist-in-residence program, and buildings double as galleries for their works. Funky and charming, the four earth-toned casitas on the banks of the tumbled Chirripó River resemble 1950s Palm Springs–style artists' abodes cocooned in deep jungle. For long, quiet views of forest-laced mountains, wander up the hill past the resident troop of capuchin monkeys to the hotel's crown jewel, Casa Palo Alto. This graceful two-suite structure, built of local woods and dark stone and with endless windows, presides queenlike over the 125-acre private preserve and the thundering river below

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Uvita de Osa, Central Pacific

The final part of your journey to Oxygen Jungle Villas—on two miles of bone-jarring gravel marked "4x4 only"—resembles a rite of passage, but initiation brings profound rewards: 12 teak-and-glass villas overlooking the Pacific from a private mountaintop jungle preserve. The glass-walled accommodations use a clever interplay of jungle, bamboo screens, and curtains to allow guests to withdraw from the world in airy privacy. In fact, although nothing at this couples-only resort enforces retreat—there are no silence gardens or scheduled meditations—stepping out of the everyday world is the clear goal here. The hotel's lack of telephones, room service, and many classic amenities enhances its secluded setting—although the five-course work of art served as dinner may well define a new type of amenity. You will likely see only the same two staffers during your stay, but their deft and relaxed expertise need no improving on. Balinese design elements—a finely carved couch by the pool, elegant bangles on the sun umbrellas—are wrapped in a sleek shell almost spartan in its refinement, with few fussy details to divert from the pursuit of inner peace. A dip in the green stone-lined infinity pool, bordered by statues of the Buddha, is an act of meditation in itself

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And that's just to list a few, there are so many amazing places to stay and I've only started looking! Another place that a friend of mine told me about was Lost Iguana Resort. Active volcano (a must see for me!), yoga retreats, jungle, outdoor shower (I love those!)...

I like to have two experiences, once being a nice hotel and the other being a total immersion into authenticity (as much as possible). I like my comfort and my privacy but I do like to get as local as possible. Get a little uncomfortable; camping uncomfortable. I like to get the city out of me, that is a true vacation. I came back from Maui and have only started to do my hair and... well, I'm still not wearing much make-up and I've kind of given up on heals. Typical summer Blanche.


So this is where I ask my loyal readers, have any of you been to Costa Rica? If yes, what kind of recommendations do you have for me?



2 comments:

VCPR said...

I ahve been to every single one of those hotels and they are all very different. My top picks? Go to Finca Rosa Blanca first, Monte Azul second,and Lapa Rios third. Or do it backwards.

amourissima said...

Thanks for the info! Any other recommendations that are not on my little list?