On the Central Pacific side of Costa Rica sits a piece of unspoiled natural wonder named Manuel Antonio. Here the rainforest meets the beach, and is where the 5-star boutique hotel Arenas Del Mar (Sands of the Sea) can be found. This eco-lux resort is set within an 11-acre nature reserve and is part of the renowned Cayuga Collection.
The Cayuga Collection is a group of award-winning sustainable hotels and lodges in Latin America, all committed to preserving their surrounding ecosystems. Every area of the resort proves that luxury and sustainability can co-exist. The steps taken to ensure Arenas del Mar are “walking the walk” in this mission, can be seen on the “Easy Being Green Tour”. This “back of house” tour offers guests the ability to see its green hospitality practices first hand from the use of organic cleaning products, irrigating the gardens with purified waste water, solar energy as the source to heat water in guest rooms, and composting, Arenas del Mar takes pride in its eco practices.
Getting to this luxury hotel was easy. After flying into San Jose, we had the resort private shuttle pick us up. After a 2-hour drive (with some scenic stops along the way) we embarked down a long dirt path to reach the opening of the rain forest. There we were greeted by an Arenas del Mar host and after a casual check in and map review of the grounds, a golf cart was called and we were driven deep into the dense forest, to the resorts main location.
My immediate impression was how at one with nature I was feeling. After a second quick welcome in the open-air lobby, we were guided down a walkway to our accommodations. The 38 suites and rooms are described as simplistic, but sustainable luxury, and are set within lush tropical surroundings, creating the perfect playground for sloths and lizards, that make this property their home.
The dining at Arenas Del Mar was exceptional. There are two restaurants on property each serving dishes with the freshest ingredients. For those who have special need diets, the menu includes gluten free, vegan, kid friendly and allergy accommodating options – all “gourmet-fied”.
I had an especially memorable dining experience at Arenas del Mar. After a successful day of fishing, (catching two enormous Mahi) my guest and I headed back to the hotel, fish in hand, and met with the Chef. We told him we would leave it up to him how to prepare the Mahi that evening for our dinner.
We were absolutely wowed that evening; being served 5 (yes 5) Mahi courses, all uniquely different. From ceviche to baked to stuffed; Chef was genius in his creations! He came out to our table and served each course himself, explaining its preparation. The Mahi food extravaganza didn’t end at dinner. It continued to the next morning, when Chef proudly served us the Mahi Benedict he prepared. Holy Mahi!
A combination of mind, body and soul wellness is the signature mantra of Arenas del Mar. Whether sunning or surfing on the beautiful stretch of beach, taking a sunset yoga class, being pampered with a nature inspired treatments at the Las Brisas spa, or sipping a tropical drink poolside, the Arenas del Mar staff are always on hand to make sure all your needs are being met.
Costa Rica itself may have won me over at my first “Pura Vida” greeting (a local saying of Costa Ricans) simply translated, it means “simple life or “pure life”.
However, it was the passion and warmth behind the saying that Arenas del Mar delivered, that truly captured my heart and proved that “Pura Vida” is more than just a saying; it is their way of life.