|photo by Freeimages.com/Roberto Burgos S.|
by Claire Wrathall, The Daily Telegraph, January 22, 2015
With 19 new casitas, Costa Rica's still-intimate Nayara Springs resort promises comfort and charm in the lush interior of Costa Rica.
Come May 4 it will for the first time be possible to fly direct from the UK to Costa Rica. That date marks the first departure of BA's bi-weekly flights from Gatwick to San José (return fares from £687, or £2,532 in business class) so it’s good to know that the country’s first truly luxurious hotel, Nayara Springs, will be able to cater to increased demand. The property has this month added 19 new casitas to its existing inventory of 16, which slightly widens the odds of your being able to secure a room there.
Two and a half hours by road from San Jose, the hotel is located in the depths of the rainforest of the Arenal Volcano National Park in the north of this narrow country. It is one of the least visited of Costa Rica’s 10 national parks despite having one of the highest concentrations of flora and fauna on Earth. (In order to leave this verdure undisturbed, one approaches the property via a 250ft footbridge built above the tree canopy.) So with luck you’ll see howler monkeys, whose blood-curdling nocturnal roars Steven Spielberg used as the dinosaur calls in Jurassic Park; iridescent blue morpho butterflies the size of your hand; as well as hummingbirds, toucans and scarlet macaws. Indeed the latter is as good as guaranteed because the hotel has one as its mascot, a five-year-old called Carlota. There are also superb views across the jungle towards the stupendous still-active volcano.
Nayara Springs opened in December 2013 as an adults-only annex to the adjacent and more obviously family-friendly 50-room Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens, the creation of the Miami-based Colombian-born property developer Leo Ghitis and the hotel operator Angelo Zaragovia, whose intention was to take hotels in Costa Rica to a whole new level.
The butler service here is one thing – though they call them hosts – but the chandeliers, Venetian glass mirror, and buttoned royal-blue and magenta velvet seating in the gastronomic restaurant, Amor Loco, where the walls are hung with photographs of celebrities from another age, seem a bit de trop in the jungle. Still its villas, built from local stone and hardwoods, are beautifully finished with furniture from Asia and North Africa, spacious teak decks, colourful hammocks, and plunge pools. And I love the orange pram-hoods fixed to the rattan loungers by the pool for those who prefer shade to full sun.
Other innovations new this month are a remodelled reception area with an espresso bar featuring a range of Costa Rican coffees, an additional restaurant (one of five places to eat, all open only to residents), with a Belgian chef, serving Asian-inflected Central American dishes (and a good line in ceviches) and a new yoga pavilion, where they offer not just morning sessions, but candlelit classes in the evening too.
Just be aware that by the time the flights launch, high season will be over, and though it won’t necessarily rain for long, it will almost certainly do so most days.
Three-night packages including breakfast, dinner, a hot stones massage each, entrance to the Eco-Termales Hot Springs, and a guided walk of the Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, start at $2,861 (£2,020).
This article was written by Claire Wrathall from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.