“In the heart of Manuel Antonio, on a blissful beach, a luxurious and sustainable resort hotel - one of our absolute favourites”
The 7 blocks of suites are spread out along a winding path which descends from the reception area down to the beach, with another swimming pool and bar; so you can choose to be nearer the beach, or nearer the restaurant. The architecture is remarkable, fitting so organically with the rainforest all around it. All of the blocks will be covered with plants, as if reclaimed by the forest.
Yet inside, the design is smart, sophisticated and carefully considered. The 38 rooms and suites are elegant and welcoming: neutral walls and polished wood floors; lavish fabrics in warm colours, and white Egyptian cotton sheets. Original paintings by celebrated Costa Rican artists are inspired by the natural world.
Ocean Breeze Suites have a bedroom with a balcony and a pretty tiled hot tub. Along a corridor, there’s a sitting room with a sofabed, and a separate bathroom. Ocean View Premium Suites are similar, but they have an extra bathroom and (as the name suggests) views of the ocean.
Superior Rooms are also divided into ocean breeze or ocean view categories. They all have an ensuite bathroom, but no sitting room or Jacuzzi, though they're still quite spacious. The Garden Rooms similar, but are set furthest away from the ocean.
The bathrooms are gorgeous: ochre tiles, period lamps and glass bricks bring a 1920s feel. Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion) are provided in big bottles, and to be used with confidence: they’re excellent quality, biodegradable and organic. There are bathrobes too, and a hairdryer; you also get a safe, an LCD cable television, an Ipod dock, a well-stocked minibar, air-conditioning above your bed and living rooms have a fan.
The El Mirador restaurant seems to merge seamlessly both with the more organic bar area and with the rainforest seen through its cinemascope windows. Yet it’s a chic, very stylish space.
Polished stone floors, dark hardwood high-backed chairs, well dressed tables, and contemporary fabrics come in pale olive green, and chocolate brown, with some splashes of warm colour. A series of interconnecting, open-sided rooms give guests a choice of atmosphere, all subtly-lit; and wildlife is ever present, with trees growing through the roof, as if the jungle might reclaim it at any moment. The sound of the ocean mingles with gentle Costa Rican music (you’ll want to buy it in the shop afterwards).
The dinner menu is quite exceptional for Costa Rica in remaining faithful to native ingredients and flavours, while cunningly introducing some international elements. Chef Olmos Dixon has created lots of surprises from his locally-sourced organic produce: a terrific Mangospacho soup; freshest tuna sashimi, and a divine Pacific lobster and cayote escabeche. Try the sea bass with garlic, ginger and chives, or the spice-encrusted pork tenderloin with a guava glaze. The wine list is excellent and well-chosen, with some superb Argentine and Chilean bottles. This is a truly relaxing and uplifting place to dine.
Light and delicious lunches are served in Playitas bar restaurant down by the beach and the lower pool. Open 10am to 5pm, it serves a different menu - more salads, wraps and sandwiches, and some hot dishes. There are great cocktails too, right on the beach.
Breakfast is a treat, starting with a good plate of tropical fruits, fresh juice, tea (in pots!) and excellent organic shade-grown coffee from sister hotel Finca Rosa Blanca. Follow this with a little basket of home baked breads and pastries, and a choice of hot dishes, including Costa Rican favourites and international staples. Our rice and beans with fried plantain and eggs was excellent. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff, who take pride in welcoming you to this very Costa Rican restaurant.
Children of all ages will love it here. There is a separate pool close to the beach for children to swim in safely (sea swimming carries an occasional risk of rip tides). A snack bar by the beach will take care of lunch. Manuel Antonio National Park is magical for children, and it's one of the country’s most accessible. Plus the walks in the hotel grounds with Eduardo, the hotel’s guide, are fascinating.
Children under 6 years of age share parents' room for free, including breakfast. Children 6 years and older will be charged the full rate for room and meals.
Two of the room categories have pull out sofabeds: Ocean View Premium Suite and Ocean Breeze Suite. If you book a room near to the beach you will be able to watch your children play in the pool from your balcony.
The restaurant is wonderfully accommodating if you have dietary requirements, and there are options for children.