If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, put Origins Lodge in Costa Rica on your shortlist. Less than 90 minutes from Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in the country’s northwest, the resort offers a sustainable, nature-focused and holistic approach to living.
Neighboring up to small farms, the resort is far enough from even small-town life—your car radio will start to cut out on the drive—that all you hear on property is the wind and various fauna that call the region home (including over 250 species of birds, over a dozen frogs and more). What’s more: While not 100 percent off the grid, Origins Lodge is very sustainable. Much of the furniture on property is cut from fallen trees in the surrounding rainforest, bath amenities are made on property from plants (also found on property), numerous beehives are used as home for bees that produce honey, and many of the vegetables and herbs used in the kitchen are grown on the resort. Origins Lodge, which opened five years ago, is also plastic-free; all guests receive a reusable water bottle that can be refilled at filling stations around the resort.
One of our favorite sustainable features can be found in each of the six lodges and the three-bedroom villa: A hot tub heated by an adjacent wood-burning fireplace. In fact, the rooms were some of our favorite parts of the property, period.
Each of the circular lodges has a king bed in the center of the room, with a shelf/desk space on one side and a couch built into the structure on the other. Behind the bed are two closets, ample storage space and the bathroom, where guests will find an open rain shower and dual vanities. Above the king bed is a skylight that is opened during the day for additional lighting and closed at turn-down service to block out the morning light.
Outside, each lodge has a large deck with a day bed, two Adirondack chairs and that fireplace-heated hot tub. Oh, and the view overlooks the valley in front of the resort, stretching out to Nicaragua and its lake, Cocibolca. Try to picture it: You have your favorite book in hand and are soothed by the sounds around you—the hum of the fireplace, water flowing from the faucet into your hot tub, birds calling, bugs chirping and the occasional monkey howling. Whether you spend the morning on a hike to a waterfall or at the yoga pavilion, a recoup on the deck or in the hot tub is always a good move.
Good to know: Rooms do not have TVs or air conditioning but have ample outlets and come with two fans. Also, if you would prefer your hot tub to be cooled down, you can let the team know and they can just as easily convert it into a plunge pool (and everything in between).
The villa is the most secluded room on property and offers a kitchen/living room, which is connected to three bedrooms, all with their own bathroom, via the covered outdoor deck. With a much larger hot tub and a section of the deck that cantilevers over the hillside below, this is a great space for a family or three couples to spend time. Thanks to its location on the hill, it also offers some of the best views on property. Good to know: The rooms are convertible from king beds to two double beds, meaning this is the best/only option for families.
We were told the resort typically only accepts children over six years old but can do buyouts. Weddings and yoga retreats are also very popular in the offseason. Guests staying in the lodges are often couples and typically honeymooners.
Tip: Neblina is the accessible room. It has no steps and is wide enough for a wheelchair. Despite the property’s outdoor-centric design, we were told that a couple in their 80s, the husband requiring an oxygen tank, recently visited Origins and loved it.
We also like that rooms come with a guide to all the species you can find on property, as well as a pair of binoculars from which to see them. In addition to the birds and frogs, guests might spot two species of monkeys, sloths, a variety of reptiles (including lizards, turtles and snakes), and dozens of mammals that can include anteaters, coati and big cats. In the region, one might spot, jaguars, pumas, ocelots or margays, but they are territorial, and we were told that you would likely only see an ocelot on property (although a sighting is extremely rare). That said, we saw some claw markings on a tree during a hike, which was plenty close for us. It was cool just to know such a creature was recently in that same spot.
A sloth sighting would have been a highlight but we were not so fortunate. We were able, however, to see some monkeys climbing right in front of our lodge, as well as a toucan, owl and even a couple snakes.
If you want the “full” nature experience, take a night hike with one of the guides—this is when most of the wildlife is most active. Tip: The resort makes its own bug spray; whether you use this or have a preferred brand, be sure to use lots of it because the bugs will also be very active at this time.
A daytime hike to the Oro (Gold) Waterfall, named for the sparkling minerals in the soil, is a must. It’s not too strenuous but its best to wear proper hiking shoes as the trail gets muddy. While you can make the hike roundtrip, we opted to be met at the end by horses, which we rode back to property (on a different path). The resort has several of its own horses, including a baby whose name is Julio (it was born in July, after all). All the horses were very well broken and were very obedient. It had been some decades since we last rode a horse and had no trouble at all.
Off-property, the resort can arrange for additional hikes to nearby waterfalls, plus white-water rafting, kayaking, tubing and paddle board experiences. The rafting is apparently fairly intense, although guides (who join you) will have you prepped for everything you will encounter. Others in our group opted for this excursion one of the days and came back with very positive reviews. The rafting took about two hours and is located 45 to 60 minutes from the property; it’s also located in a very “off-the-beaten-path” spot, meaning there are not many other tourists there. When we go back, this will surely be on our list.
For off-site excursions, it’s best to book a week before arrival.
If you’re looking for a more relaxing experience, Origins Lodge has plenty to offer on that front, as well. The spa was a standout for everyone in the group, who agreed Karla Altamirano was one of the best spa practitioners we’d had. The Laka-Tii Spa Suite has two treatment beds, plus an outdoor deck with a hot tub. We opted for our usual deep tissue massage, and it was just perfect. One of the signature treatments, however, is the cranial sacral treatment, which uses lemongrass, ylang ylang, mint and rosemary from the garden. The therapist applies gentle touch to the scalp, including soft tissues and cerebrospinal fluid that surround the central nervous system, which releases tension to the brain, back, spine and other areas of the body to promote overall health and wellness. The practitioner also gives a foot and back massage following the cranial sacral massage to help promote relaxation and healing.
There’s also a yoga pavilion, completely surrounded by nature, where a resident instructor leads private classes exclusively. Additional therapies or ceremonies—including breathwork, reiki, sound healing and cacao ceremonies—can be arranged. Book these in advance, as well. We partook in a cacao ceremony, something we had never done before, and it was quite the experience. Musicians, prior to the ceremony begin making a hot cacao drink (like hot cocoa, but less sweet and with other spices); when everyone arrives, they sang, played some instruments and passed out the cacao. We were encouraged to take up other instruments, like maracas or a tambourine, and play along. Best was laying down on the provided cot and listening to the music and nature.
If you want to learn how the property makes its bath amenities, a lab is being built where guests can learn from the on-site teacher how to mix plant-based ingredients, oils and flowers sourced on property to create a personalized, organic line of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, moisturizing lotion and facial soap.
The restaurant, which also doubles as the lobby/reception, serves local cuisine with a French twist (the owner of Origins Lodge hails from Brittany). During breakfast, the table is filled with a huge spread of bread, cheeses, chia pudding, meats and fruit. Guests can also order à la carte items from a menu, offering local and international items.
Lunch and dinner have set menus, which are typically written on a chalkboard at the entrance to the restaurant. The team will confirm that everything planned works and, if not, what other options they can do instead. Our group had people with food allergies and gluten intolerances, people who were vegan, dairy-free or didn’t drink alcohol; the restaurant staff made everything work without a single issue, and everything was equally delicious. One day we had mentioned we didn’t like a food item to one of the other members of our group; the next day, when a dish that had that item was served to us, it was instead substituted for another item. We weren’t even aware that someone from the hotel had been nearby but, somehow, the staff was made aware and accommodated for us without even being asked. We thought that was most impressive.
The team also really helped us out when we realized, upon unpacking, that we forgot an essential toiletry. Since the resort is plastic-free, not even its on-site shop sold anything with plastic. We alerted the staff at the shop and by turn-down, it was awaiting in our room.
Another impressive feat that Origins Lodge General Manager Claudia Silva told us about was for a Jewish couple who had visited the resort. They kept Kosher and the resort had to bring in all the proper food items and equipment to make sure the couple maintained their diet. Equally as impressive, a very famous British rockstar had stayed at the resort. As to not have his sleep interrupted, he wanted blackout curtains in his room. The hotel had them installed.
Travel advisors should contact Origins Lodges’ representation company, The R-list, via Rejane Bonnet ([email protected]). GM Claudia is included on all such emails, but advisors may also reach out to her directly at claudia.originslodge.com.
The resort is busiest from November to mid-May; it’s best to book at least several months out and up to a year for holidays. The resort closes each October for maintenance.
Good to know: Still some years away, Origins Lodge will be opening two sister properties nearby. One will be located adjacent to the current resort and will be geared towards families with villa accommodations; the second will be located about 45 minutes away near hot springs and will lean even more into the wellness component. /