Ponce de León put Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast on the map in 1519 — but, too afraid to confront the native Quepoa tribe, he was left to appreciate the evergreen forests and white sand from the safety of his ship. Today, thanks to the establishment of the Manuel Antonio National Park and a number of luxury resorts springing up along the beach, the lush coastal region is quite a bit more tourist-friendly. The poshest hotel of the lot is the Gaia Hotel and Reserve, a sprawling jungle retreat situated atop a mountain and comprising a series of terraced suites and studios in addition to a private villa that looks out over the ocean.
Contemporary amenities and clean tropical-style design — think polished stone and hardwood floors, high ceilings, crisp whites, and gauzy drapery in natural hues — characterize the Gaia’s simple but inviting guest quarters. 500-thread count linens, flat-screen televisions, and internet capability come standard, and many of the rooms also include features like two- or four-person Jacuzzis, separate living rooms, and private balconies or patios. The two-bedroom villa has a rooftop terrace with its own reflecting pool, while the Gaia Suite boasts a garden and a plunge pool.
Due to the no-kids-allowed policy, guests enjoy relative peace at resort attractions like the Terra Spa, the fitness center, and the bi-level swimming pool — actually two pools connected by a waterfall, strategically placed to offer sweeping views of the coastal mountain range. Tapas await at the Amber Lounge, and the popular La Luna restaurant serves Costa Rican specialties made with jumbo shrimp and tropical fruits. Of course the reason for visiting the region in the first place is the spectacular nature reserve and national park surrounding the resort. If you’d rather head into the wilderness with an expert than go it alone, Gaia arranges full and half-day tours in everything from scuba diving and snorkeling to horseback riding, surfing, and dolphin-watching.
Gaia Hotel & Reserve is approximately a 3 hour drive from San Jose International Airport and 4 hours from the Liberia-Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange airport transfers.
No children under 16.