Tamarindo, Costa Rica
In the heart of rapidly evolving Playa Langosta, a 10–minute walk from the beach, this charming hotel—recently reopened after a two–year hiatus—offers a colorful and relaxing ambiance, with a magnificent pool and fine restaurant.
Despite its landlocked location enclosed by a wall and unpaved dirt road, Cala Luna pervades a sophisticated beach resort feel that impresses immediately upon arrival. Making broad use of thatch and splashed top to bottom in ice cream pastels—papaya, mango, pineapple—the mood is suitably tropical. Glazed treetrunks support the open–sided lobby's angled palenque ceiling, beneath which arriving guests can settle into a huge L–shaped, soft–cushioned, sofa and white leather lounge chairs encircling a large coffeetable made from a diced ficus trunk. Rustic art and craft pieces and subtle wall motifs honor Costa Rica's Indigenous tradition, and the hotel's logo suspended above reception is that of a pre–Columbian representation of an eagle.
This space opens invitingly, rearward, to a lush landscaped garden inset with a freeform pool framed with hibiscus and bougainvillea in every shade of lipstick. White–and–taupe lounge chairs are aligned around the sundeck, including beneath curtained canopies. To one side, the open–air Cala Morsca restaurant echoes the theme, with treetrunk supports, a roof of thatch, and yellow walls and tablecloths set with fresh floral displays. Tables extend onto the pooldeck, and the flicker of candles by night sets the right romantic tone. Here, Chef Louis Briseño delivers consistently tasty gourmet fare using local organic ingredients—call it Costa Rican nouvelle—from sustainable fishing and farming, supported by a biodynamic wine list. A starter of asparagus with olives and anis followed by fish ragú with jumbo shrimp and plantain typifies the adventurous menu.
Guest rooms have been toned down after a recent makeover that has notched up the sophistication level. Sponge–washed walls in gold and tropical pastel décor has given way to the more refined and less jarring taupe, turquoise, white and chocolate found throughout the resort. Two queens or a king–size bed are standard, as are air–conditioning and ceiling fans, and all villas have flat–screen TVs and CD players, plus free WiFi. Mexican tiles help keep things cool underfoot.
Exquisite bathrooms feature marble–topped his and her sinks, plus two–person sunken tubs perfectly suited for lovers to wallow together. Larger parties might opt for spacious two– or three–bedroom villas. Echoing the rooms in style, these units also have fully–equipped kitchens (even microwave ovens and cappuccino machines are standard, as are washing machines) plus their own pools in otherwise sparse gardens.
The hotel's facilities include a boutique and tour desk, and it offers horseback rides, ziplining, and cooking classes at Finca La Senda. Cala Luna now boasts a large alfresco dojo for yoga classes and retreats—a specialty here. Massage in your room or at the beach is also offered.
Though this hotel would be enhanced by a beachfront setting, this is the best hotel in the region and the sands are a pleasant stroll away via a short path across the street.
Web Address: www.calaluna.com
Total Number of Rooms: 20 rooms, 21 villas
Published rates: $295 to $560
Review and photos by Christopher Baker