By Sarah Thomson
After a long day of travel, leaving Toronto at 6 a.m. with American Airlines and a plane switch in Miami, we arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica by 2 p.m., picked up our rental vehicle and made our way to the coast. Taking the new highway from San Jose to Quepos took us approximately 3 hours and we arrived at Arenas Del Mar just as the sun was setting.
We were greeted by two friendly attendants who loaded our bags onto a large golf cart and shuttled us up a paved path, through the jungle, to our room; tree frogs and night bugs filling the canopy above us with their calls. Stopping at the reception area, with pool and bar, we picked up our key and were informed of the Calypso dinner being served on the beach.
Our room was a spectacular corner suite facing the ocean and beach. The polished wood accenting the windows and stone tiling was elegant. Heavy doors slid easily open to a huge wrap around balcony that could be accessed from both the master bedroom and living room (where the kids slept on a pull out couch that was made up and ready for them). The balcony off the master bedroom had lounge chairs and a huge Jacuzzi tub that overlooked the cliffs and sea below, around the corner the balcony off the living room had a couch and big comfy chairs. Trees surrounded us— the jungle sounds of bugs, birds and howler monkeys, combined with the luscious earthy smell of vegetation, made everything seem surreal.
Most of the living area is outside with large covered terraces providing shade and great views. We could see the lanterns on the beach burning, and hear the surf pounding against the rocks far below.
After pulling our swim suits from the luggage we changed and caught a chauffeured golf cart down the path to the pool (the golf carts ferry people up and down the path to the beach and reception area). We had a quick swim then changed for dinner and made our way to the candle lit beach. An area under the palm trees was filled with white linen covered tables and chairs. A Calypso trio played soft music—without an amplifier. The music, with the rhythm of the waves in the background and the warm breeze combined to make it a beautiful evening. Dinner was fantastic and my 7-year-old was invited to play the maracas with the band and without any hesitation he was up there loving the attention (what he’s lacks in shyness he makes up for in smiles).
We woke up the next morning to the sound of the parakeets and toucans in the trees that surround our terrace. The sun was just rising, and with it the jungle came to life. Our boys’ excitement and desire to explore was infectious and we went for an early morning walk before going for our free breakfast. The resort has two beaches. One is secluded and protected by large rock outcroppings at either end and the other larger beach is part of Manuel Antonio National Park and stretches for miles.
It wasn’t long before the boys were soaked and playing in the waves. (*Note to parents: put them in bathing suits the moment they wake up because the ocean is warm and irresistible). As the sun began to rise and heat up the beach, we made our way back to the resort, changed and went for breakfast of fruit pancakes and delicious coffee.
Arenas Del Mar Nature Resort is an elegant introduction to the beauty of Costa Rica. It is by far one of my favourite hotels in the world, with a combination of elegance and design that works perfectly with the natural beauty of the jungle that surrounds it.
It is: quiet, calm, elegant, peaceful, natural, warm and amazing.
It is not: loud, party place, crowded, busy, cold and average.
I hope to come be back to this beautiful resort very soon.
Take a look at the beautiful beaches below.