Arenas del Mar combines the back-to-nature experience of a rustic ecolodge with the swish amenities of a luxury hotel. Guests here can get up close and personal with Costa Rica’s famed flora and fauna without roughing it, and the vibe is accordingly upscale yet relaxed.
The resort takes up about a quarter of its 11-acre property, with the rest of the land serving as a private nature reserve analogous to neighbouring Manuel Antonio National Park. Developers worked to minimize the resort’s impact on its natural surroundings during construction. As a result, monkeys, iguanas, sloths and other animals move freely around the grounds, which means guests don’t need to leave the property to enjoy prime wildlife viewing.
Decorated with wooden furniture and pale beachy colours, rooms are simple and elegant. Dreamy king-size beds have 400-thread count organic cotton linens and mini-bars are filled with a rotating selection of local snacks and drinks. Although the emphasis here is on disconnection, rooms don’t scrimp on techie features, offering free Wi-Fi, iHome radios and flat-screen TVs.
Green-and-cream tiled bathrooms have overhead showers and huge vanities with the resort’s own brand of organic bath products. Most rooms feature covered decks, some of which have outdoor hot tubs. The 129-square foot Garden Rooms offer good value for couples, or you can splurge on one of the suites, which come with kitchenettes, living areas with sofa beds and great ocean views.
The resort’s stand-out feature is its access to not one but two pretty beaches, Playa Espadilla and Playitas Beach. Two lagoon-style swimming pools offer additional lounging locales – the upper pool has dramatic views of Playa Espadilla and the lower pool is steps away from Playitas Beach.
A pair of restaurants, El Mirador and Playitas Restaurant and Bar, collectively offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Free a la carte breakfast is included in the room rate and, true to the resort’s eco-friendly leanings, menus focus on locally-sourced, organic food and drink. The low-key spa has some ocean view treatment rooms, and room rates also include two tours – a tortilla-making class and a behind-the-scenes look at the resort’s green initiatives.
The main entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s most popular national parks, is a 15-minute drive from the resort. Most international travellers arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport, a 3-hour drive away (the resort offers shuttle service for an extra fee).
Also a 15-minute drive away is the the little town of Quepos, the nearest outpost of banks, grocery stores and restaurants in this secluded part of the country. Quepos has some surprisingly good restaurants considering its small size, but Arenas del Mar is best suited to guests looking to spend most of their time exploring the park rather than those interested in shopping and nightlife.
Rooms start at $489 per night
Punta Quepos, Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica, +506 2777 2777, arenasdelmar.com