Enhance your health and mood with tropical treasures.
Imagine if the delicious cup of coffee, the freshly made piña colada, the exotic fragrance of wild orchids, or the rich rainforest chocolate could be part of your spa experience. By featuring these, and many other ingredients, within various health, relaxation and beauty treatments, the spa pampering that you will receive here will give you a unique, personal connection to the local environment here in lush Costa Rica. Many of the products can be purchased to take home with you so you can rejuvenate when back home as well, while being reminded of your exotic journey to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse and intense places on the entire planet. Each region has its own microclimates with specific representative flora and fauna to dazzle you. It is amazing how many things grow and flourish here, providing an incredible array of fruits, nuts, spices and oils which end up in hand-made organic spa products. Many spas offer a holistic or integral service of international quality, in a warm and personalized manner characteristic of the Costa Rican people. Add the wondrous source of natural, local ingredients such as coffee, brown sugar, coconut, papaya, mango, sea salt, organic rainforest chocolate and the result is magical; a small taste of the treasures in store for you here. These local gems in the able hands of soothing local practitioners will put you into relaxed bliss, leaving you thinking about your time here long after you leave. What a way to enhance your trip- this is Pura Vida!
One of my favorite places is Hotel Punta Islita in the Nicoya Peninsula, home to the Casa Spa which artfully incorporates herbalist wisdom from the local Chorotega tribe into their treatments. Punta Islita’s own organic garden provides the ingredients for many of the spa’s treatments. According to Dorelia Mulca, director of the Casa Spa, the current trend is to return to our origins, where great value is placed on the natural. “We must not forget that the ancestral indigenous shamans would heal with herbs and rituals,” she points out. Choose from an array of wonderful treatments for him or her, families, athletes, kids, teens even special treatments for women that are pregnant. The Punta Islita Ritual massage is amazing, featuring heated river stones, herbal oil-infused compress ball, and a Guaro Cacique (local Costa Rican sugar cane spirits) drizzle. The Guanacaste Traditions body treatment and massage uses papaya, mango, banana and pineapple which smells and feels great, and leaves your skin super smooth. The Cappuccino Massage with almond oil and chocolate or the Green Coffee Pick-Me-Up (detoxifying with organic coffee beans) are to die for. There are so many to choose from using ingredients such as cucumber, mint, aloe, orange, honey, volcanic mud, avocado, sesame oil, rosemary, vanilla, honeysuckle, golden algae; the list goes on! Dorelia has done a terrific job. The hotel is also stunning and has a great mix of nature, art and community in a stunning setting. Check out the local church and school built with the design and funding of the architect and his wife Ronald Zurcher. The infinity pool at the top of the resort is great, but you can also enjoy a pool lower at the seaside, and dine there also to the sounds of the sea.
Another great spot is the Neidín Spa at Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa in the basin of the majestic Arenal Volcano in the Inland Volcano area. In Bribri indigenous dialect, the word neidín means small nest or point of rest to recover lost energy. Thanks to amazing views, excellent service, and top quality treatments, you can’t help but leave the spa with a sense of complete luxury and well-being. Tocando El Cielo is a great pampering and includes a grape pulp wrap, followed by an orange and honey polish, a “wave” massage (two therapists and four hands), an exotic herb and flower bath and a glass of sparkling wine to finish; scrumptious! The Chocolate Fantasy is the ultimate; starting with the chocolate and sugar glow, followed by the sweet chocolate body wrap and finishing with a super aromatic mint and chocolate bath. This is the nicest hotel in Arenal, with stunning views of the volcano. Don’t miss the trails surrounding the property that are gorgeous with the species of fauna marked for you.
The newest destination by Grupo Islita of Hotel Punta Islita is El Silencio Lodge & Spa nestled within the cloud forest of Los Bajos del Toro. Located just an hour and a half away from San Jose in the inland central volcanic region, treatments at The Wellness Spa are just as natural as the sounds of nature surrounding it. It offers a menu designed to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. Recommendations: El Silencio Purifying Revival Massage in the cone room. This is an aromatherapy massage treatment utilizing hot oil compress ball with herbs like thyme, oregano and mint meant to increase relaxation. The cone-shaped room was specifically designed to capture positive energy from the forest that surrounds it, with the intent of enhancing the effectiveness of the treatments. Also offered are packages that combine wraps, exfoliating treatments, facials and aromatherapy using more fabulous ingredients: lime, honey, volcanic clay, coconut, carrot, and so on. The hotel’s organic orchard on property supplies fruits and vegetables to be used in the treatments. For couples the Meditation Duet is amazing. It starts with an organic herbal massage, followed by the brown sugar, vanilla and coconut body polish accompanied by organic wild blackberries and sparkling wine, such bliss! You can hike in splendor, visit nearby canopy zip-lines, river rafting trips and horseback riding. This place is heaven in the cloud forest.
Next is the place with my favorite view in all of the Quepos area: Hotel El Parador Boutique Resort & Spa. Located on the Central Pacific Coast in a region of great beauty, El Parador boasts gorgeous, panoramic ocean views. This gem is close to the Manuel Antonio National Park where you can hike through the park to pristine white sand beaches, viewing a myriad of wildlife along the way. Back at the hotel, the Pacífica Spa offers all kinds of natural treatments, including special day packages. Highlights include sand exfoliation, aloe vera relief wrap (if you have had too much sun), and the papaya and honey facial. The ginger-orange body mask is invigorating and super aromatic. The ylang-ylang milk bath is especially soothing. For men the Naturally for Him is excellent which includes a relaxing exfoliating cappuccino bath, a volcanic mud wrap with a hydrotherapeutic massage, a facial and a hot stone massage. Also offered are yoga lessons and a special place designed for couple’s massages with a spectacular ocean view. All spa visitors receive a plate of fruits. The spa also has its own line of products.
Another option near Manuel Antonio National Park is the only 5 star hotel in the area: Gaia Hotel & Reserve featuring the Terra Spa. The surrounding forest reserve is a perfect backdrop for the spa with great sounds and sensations. This hotel is very modern and elegant with clean long lines and great light. Terra Spa offers an array of treatments and therapies that use organic natural products, many of which are certified and produced by locals that also follow the sustainable concept adopted by the hotel. Terra Tuning is one of the most popular and holistic packages. This 4 hour splurge includes a sauna session, Reiki chakra balancing, Thai massage, and organic facial treatment using all local hand-made products. The organic facial is called the Arco Iris and includes Papaya Exfoliation Polish, Citrus Cleansing Lemon Meringue Mask, and Mango Dream Hydrating Cream. Part of the facial is a sumptuous acupressure scalp and foot massage. Also available is the “Vichy Rain Shower,” which consists of a hydrotherapeutic massage of a warm rain shower in the tropical forest where you select your desired temperature and which is recommended to follow with an exfoliation. Elegance and sophistication in the rainforest!
Last but not least is another all-time favorite, Xandari Resort & Spa. Located in tropical paradise some 1,200 meters above sea level and boasting a beautiful view of the Central Valley, the Xandari Spa is located at only 20 minutes away from Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela. This is fabulous on your way in and out of San Jose traveling internationally, you can do fabulous day trips or half-day trips very easily from Xandari to Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Tour, Sarchi, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Sarapiqui, Reventazon, or Pacuare River Rafting, Villa Blanca Canopy Tour and many others. One of the Xandari Spa’s outstanding feature is that each spa treatment provides you your own palm-thatched jalapa with its own Jacuzzi. There you may experience the feeling of mind, body and soul melting into nature in complete privacy. One of the big treats is Xandari Heaven, which involves three hours of enjoyment in your private jalapa: Jacuzzi jets, followed by an aromatherapy treatments for your hair, exfoliation for your entire body and a soft or deep massage of your choice. Some of the key special treatments that focus on local ingredients include: Selva de Osa mud wrap using 100% natural sediment from the Osa Peninsula, Coffee and Macademia Buff to polish and hydrate your skin, or Papaya Body Polish. The views, service, architecture, art all come together for a unique and special Costa Rica experience only 20 minutes from San Jose’s International Airport. Those of us that live here in the central valley can escape to Xandari in minutes and feel we are a world away with all the amenities you could ever hope for.