“An upmarket bohemian eco retreat with 4 stylish casitas, hidden in 100 acres of cloud forest, in the remote southern highlands”
The 4 modern casitas are set well apart from one another and camouflaged in the forest, reached via private trails past tall banana plants and tropical foliage. Inside, their sleek and minimal design enhances the natural delights around them, with semi-glass walls and a large terrace with chairs so you can relax to the sound of the river and enjoy your private garden. There are no TVs or radios - though you can request an iPod dock - as the focus is on getting away from it all. As well as a queensize bed (twinned on request), you get a small seating area, a shower bathroom, and a small kitchenette stocked with the hotel's coffee, a coffee maker, a hob and a fridge. You can ask for your cupboards to be filled with local goodies in advance, and you'll also find a welcome tray with Monte Azul's own goat's cheese, feta and fruit. Each casita is slightly different: Verde has a larger garden area, and although Naranja’s garden is the smallest, it features 2 large boulders, a sculptural bamboo fence and a babbling brook. Celeste has direct access to the river trail, as does Verde, and they both face the river below. Amarilla faces the mountains and has a small creek running through its garden. Each casita is very private and very special; they are designed for couples. The little details raise them above classic rainforest cabins: fine Egyptian linen, fresh tropical flowers by your bed, handmade soap in the shower, and plump cushions on the wooden chairs on the terrace. All art on the walls is by artists-in-residence and is for sale.
Guests stay on full-board rates (excluding alcohol), and the hotel restaurant, Cafe Blue, gets great feedback. For breakfast, there's plenty to choose from: fresh fruit, gallo pinto (rice and beans) and plátano maduro (fried bananas), cheese blintzes with mango sauce and cashew fruit butter, and fresh eggs with homefries and crispy bacon. The à la carte lunch and dinner menus can be served in your casita, or in the restaurant. Monte Azul bake their own bread, make their own desserts and grow so much fresh produce that meals are delicious, as well as being inventive. Soups may be lemongrass chicken with rice noodles or carrot vichyssoise; starters include fresh beet salad or wasabi tuna ceviche, and for mains you'll be tempted by baked snapper in a shrimp cream sauce, ginger pork skewers over jasmine rice, or perhaps filet mignon over grilled watermelon. All-day snacks such as ceviche, fruit, cheese plates and pancakes are available as room service (extra cost). The creamy chevre is all made on site (you can attend cheese-making sessions if you want to know more) and the local coffee, Quick Monkey, comes direct from Monte Azul's plantation. You'll find a kitchenette with a small store cupboard, hob, fridge and sink in your casita and will be welcomed with a platter of local goodies. You can request for your cupboard to be filled with local food in advance of your stay if you want to self-cater a few meals, or pick up groceries from the farmers' market in San Isidro de El General, 30 minutes away, where you'll also find alternative eateries.