COSTA RICA – PURA VIDA
Costa Rica –
Our journey began on United Airlines non-stop to Liberia, one of two major airports in Costa Rica. Liberia is in the north western part of the country and is the newest airport in Costa Rica. Also, Liberia International Airport is the closest one to the Guanacaste/beach resorts.
The custom and immigration process was uneventful. Next, we found the shuttle to the rental car location which was about 10 mins. From the airport. The whole car rental experience was about an hour.
Our home for the next 3 nights is the brand new, opened 2 days prior to our arrival, W HOTEL Reserva Conchal is on the southern edge of the Guanacaste coast. The drive from the airport was about 90 mins. And our GPS worked perfectly.
W Hotel Reserva Conchal – https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/lirwh-w-costa-rica-reserva-conchal/ is a modern, life style hotel located in the community of Reserva Conchal. This is a hip, fun and energetic resort. The hotel has 132 guest rooms and 18 suites in 3 five story buildings and 2 single story buildings. The public areas are designed with the Guanacaste tree in mind. There are two pools – the largest is at the main area of the resort – near the open air ‘living room’ and main dining room and the 2nd pool in near the beach.
The beach is beautiful – over 2 kilometers of light sand, very wide (depending on the tide) and mostly empty of tourist. They do not offer beach chairs or umbrellas but, feel free to bring you beach towels and soak up the sun and surf.
The hotel has 3 dining outlets and a beautiful spa. There are bicycles and some beach toys to rent. And the Reserva Conchal community has a golf course.
The next day we were treated to a private tour of the rain forest. This is a full day activity – 3+ hours in each direction by minibus/van. The tour company was Swiss Travel and the guide was excellent. Very educated and well versed in the whole of Costa Rica. The reason the journey is so long is because the main roads are paved but, only 2 lanes. And the last hour of the drive in the rainforest is on un-paved roads, mostly single lanes and bumpy. Our guide treated us to coffee and pastries at a local shop before entering the rain-forest. As you would expect, the coffee was delicious and prepared as a ‘pour-over’. If you are familiar with the pour-over concept, I believe it originated in Costa Rica – not at Starbucks!
Our rain-forest experience was at Sensoria – www.sensoria.cr. This is a private rain-forest reserve just north of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. They owners limit the guest to 35 per day. Our guide provided in-depth knowledge of the inhabitants of the rain-forest – Flora & Fauna! The information is overwhelming and priceless. No one should miss the opportunity to explore the rain-forest when visiting Costa Rica.
From the W Hotel we drove north along the coast to the Papagayo Peninsula to the Andaz Costa Rica Resort- https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/costarica/andaz-costa-rica-resort-at-peninsula-papagayo/liraz. The entrance to the peninsula is very dramatic with beautiful, giant palm trees as the backdrop. Currently, there are 2 resorts and a marina. The Hyatt Andaz is the first resort after the marina. The hotel has 132 rooms and 21 suites, all facing the Culebra Bay. The style is contemporary designs with natural materials.
Several nice features of The Andaz Resort – open air reception/lobby, no front desk, very relaxed greeting and check-in. The resort has 2 beaches at the main campus and a beach house nearby with another white sand beach. The shuttle operated by the hotel runs every 30 minutes and is about a 10 – 15 min. drive. The beach house has a food and beverage outlet as well as beach chairs, umbrellas and lots of beach games. A nice way to spend the afternoon and not feel like you are at a resort.
The dining options give you a nice selection – the main dining room which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, a Latin themed outlet with live music and a fine dining option for seafood. Ceviche is a highlight and they offer classes, too. The food was very good with plenty of choices.
My favorite feature and a no-brainer for Costa Rica – The Andaz has the only ‘coffee house/bar’ on the Peninsula.
The resort has plenty of beach activities and bicycles (both e-bikes and mountain bikes). Also, you can walk along the water to the marina.
A new offering at both the Andaz and the Four Seasons is reciprocity for guest staying at either resort. They do not have signing privileges, yet but, each resort offers shuttle service to the other as well as the nature center and golf course.
Our last hotel stay was at the Four Seasons Resort, Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo – https://www.fourseasons.com/costarica/. Just a 15-minute drive. The Four Seasons sits at the end of the peninsula and is situated in away to have a beach on the bay side and the Pacific side. There is a total of 182 guest rooms including suites and residences. And they are building more.
Having two beaches a short stroll from one another allows guest to enjoy calm waters or crashing waves. Both beaches have full services – food and beverage and water toys (Bay side). Also, they have 3 pools a main pool, a family pool and of course, one for adults with pool cabanas.
The selection of accommodations is plentiful, from guest rooms to suites and residences. The style is contemporary, light, natural and most of all, comfortable.
The Italian restaurant is very good – we ate there both nights. They have a steak house as well but, it requires a short drive from the main resort. Of course, there is a main dining room that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with both covered and open-air dining.
The spa is beautiful and worth a visit or you can play golf. The concierge can make all arrangements for you. They also have a wide range of other local activities off property.
I don’t want to pick a favorite because each resort has unique features that will appeal to all walks of life. Just go…don’t wait. And if you have been, go back. I hope to return and explore a different part of the country. And, I hope to see the volcano and stay in the Rain-forest or cloud forest or Mangrove forest and the tropical dry forest (Guanacaste).
As I mentioned in the title – Pura Vida – simple life, pure life – the way of life. It truly is a feeling I experienced being in the country. The people of Costa Rica are special. They love their country and want you to love it, too! The literacy rate is over 90% and the environment is in the forefront. The country is ranked 2nd in the world for environmental sustainability!