Hotel Finds: Costa Rica

The diversity that is so characteristic of Costa Rica, with its 12 climactic zones and over 500,000 plant and animal species, applies to hotels and lodges as well. There are properties for every taste, preference and budget. Best of all, in such a spectacular environment you’re assured of beautiful surroundings.


South Pacific Coast, Cabo Matapalo

Lapa Ríos is located on a huge private reserve on the South Pacific coast.

Located within a huge private reserve, Lapa Ríos is noted for the level of comfort and service guests receive in a magnificently isolated, almost untouched setting. There are 16 spacious cabins with four-poster, queen-sized beds. Private decks and garden terraces allow guests to observe the reserve’s scenery and wildlife.

Each room has a private deck or garden terrace with dramatic views.

All meals, served in the gigantic dining hut, feature local seafood and produce.

An evening sunset at Lapa Ríos

All meals, which are gourmet quality, are included in the rate. Seafood is a specialty as are exotic local fruits and vegetables. An infinity pool, massage hut and yoga deck are on premises. Guides are also available to hike or ride horseback with guests to wilderness areas or nearby beaches. A sustainability tour called “Pigs, Twigs & Garbage” is popular with visitors, who see first hand the resort’s eco-friendly infrastructure -- which, of course, includes the contribution of its pigs.

Lapa Ríos has been listed on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List and is one of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Hotels.


North Pacific Coast, Playa Langosta

Although it's near the über-popular Tamarindo, Cala Luna is secluded and private.

Recently remodeled, Cala Luna features open, expansive rooms with large terraces.

Slightly south of the red-hot surfing scene at Tamarindo is the secluded Cala Luna. Originally built in 1994, the entire property has just reopened after a complete makeover. Large, airy rooms are furnished with locally made furniture, polished concrete walls and mosaic-tiled tubs. All the rooms offer a patio terrace, flat screen TV with satellite and free Wi-Fi. Complimentary breakfast is also included.

The property restaurant Cala Moresca serves local and organically grown products and only fresh fish from artisan fishing. Cala Moresca is also the first restaurant in Costa Rica to offer a sustainable, organic wine list.

Recently remodeled, Cala Luna features open, expansive rooms with large terraces.

The property’s spa is highly rated. Other amenities include jet skiing, snorkeling, horseback riding, and whale watching from the lodge’s 26-foot powerboat. To ensure you don’t get bored, tours to Costa Rica’s interior can also be arranged.


North Pacific Coast, Playa Langosta

Sueño del mar has a dreamy beach location on Playa Langosta.

Rooms are beautifully furnished with carved furniture, hammocks, and eye-catching art.

With its superb beach location, Sueño del Mar more than lives up to its name. The tiny hotel -- 3 rooms, 1 suite, 2 casitas -- is quite dreamy. Large rooms feature carved furniture, queen-sized beds, hammocks and quirky, eye-catching art. Open Balinese showers may appeal to some guests more than others, however.

The property restaurant serves a lavish breakfast which is included in the rate. Landscaped gardens, water sports and beautiful beaches are the big draw here.


North Pacific, Guanacaste

A whimsical fountain at Río Celeste

Striking design and comfort are part of the appeal at Río Celeste

Also secluded deep within the rainforest, near Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano, is Rio Celeste. The property includes 26 casitas, each with open balconies and spectacular views of the nearby mountains and lush tropical scenery.

Rooms are attractively furnished with carved plantation-style furniture. Flat-screen TV with satellite and iPod docking stations are also available. A poolside bar and full-service restaurant provide guests with a respite from hiking, rafting and zip-lining.

An outstanding full-service restaurant and bar are available on site.

Rafting, hiking and zip-lining are hotel activities.


Northern Plains, La Fortuna

Arenal Volcano provides a dramatic backdrop for Tabacón Resort.

The Tabacón Spa is famous for it's mud wraps and volcanically heated waters.

Two restaurants and bars serve up tempting dishes and exotic drinks.

Located at the base of Arenal Volcano, Tabacón Resort has some of the most dramatic views of any property in Costa Rica. Proximity to the volcano also provides the hot spring rivers that have made the resort a top-draw.

All 100 rooms and 14 suites at Tabacón have recently been remodeled with enormous bathrooms and large patios added. The suites in particular are sumptuous with mahogany armoires and Jacuzzis.

The property boasts a gym, pools and the Grand Spa, which is particularly known for its Detoxifying Volcanic Body Wrap. Guests are covered with copious amounts of local, mineral-rich mud. Then after absorbing the beneficial goo, they soak in a volcanically heated stream. Definitely not on your typical spa menu.

Two restaurants and bars are on the property. Breakfast is included in the rate. Tabacón is a member of the prestigious “Leading Hotels of the World.”


Northern Plains, Grecia

The valley that inspired the name: Vista del Valle.

Each of the 17 bungalows at Vista del Valle is unique. All have either a wrap-around porch or balcony.

Each of the 17 bungalows on this large property is completely unique. All are spacious, some have kitchenettes. A large wrap-around porch or balcony allows guests to relax in hammocks while watching iguanas, hummingbirds and monkeys frolicking overhead.

Guests up for a hike can take advantage of a trail leading to a pretty waterfall or they can simply lounge poolside. Breakfast, also served by the pool, is complimentary and special dietary requests can be accommodated for all meals.

Because Vista del Valle is a working plantation, most of the food served in the restaurant is grown on site.

Particularly interesting for visitors, is that the lodge is a real working plantation. Most of the food served in the small, but excellent restaurant is grown on site. Guests may tour the various gardens, orchards and hot houses. Also appealing is that both the restaurant and bar are situated on a hillside overlooking the remarkable Río Grande canyons. Sunsets and sunrises are not to be missed!

See the main feature A Primal Beauty for additional photos of Vista del Valle.

For additional lodging recommendations, see the EASY TO BOOK: Online Hotel Reservations link on this page.

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