Turrialba, Costa Rica
Located off–the–beaten–track in one of Costa Rica's undiscovered quarters, Swiss–owned Casa Turire is evolving as an upscale activities center. Its strong suits are its reclusivity and a stupendous setting surrounded by mountains in the lee of Turrialba volcano.
Opened some 15 years ago as an integral part of Hacienda Atiroo, a multi–faceted agricultural operation, this striving–to–be–deluxe hotel retains its plantation theme under a new and youthful Swiss owner, Werner Fuchs. The hotel's opening coincided with creation of a man–made lake (intended to supply a nearby HEP dam) edging up to the hotel and toady a setting for water activities. Fuchs has recently added a stable and, being a family man, water buffalo, goats and other animals that constitute a petting zoo, while a horsedrawn buggy offers tours of the property. Mountain biking and horseback rides probe further afield.
Palms form a towering arcade leading up to the two–tier hotel that stands atop a rise surrounded by manicured lawns and framed to the fore by a loggia terrace supported by glazed timbers. Beyond the porte–cochere entrance, the soaring atrium lobby–lounge is a rather sparse and under–utilized space that, like much of this hotel, would benefit from a fresh aesthetic vision. More appealing is the adjoining lounge and reading room that extends to a small and functional bar. Part Laura Ashley, part Georgian England, the mood is that of a soothingly English country house.
The dining room opens to a patio merging into the delightful sundeck, inset with an amoeba–shaped pool and separate whirlpool spa. The restaurant, for long a weak link here, has improved under a youthful new chef. Nonetheless, the ambitious nouvelle menu still struggles to reach international standards.
The capacious rooms, on two upper levels, similarly are a mixed bag. Newly refurbished with nice fabrics and bold color schemes, most feature king beds, glossy (yet creaky) hardwood floors, and cable TVs with limited channels. Bathrooms are a weak link that cry out for a total remodeling: combining white–and–green tiles and tub–showers with draw curtains, they suffer a number of deficiencies, including plumbing issues and a noticeable deterioration. The best bet are the two junior suites and two master suites–the latter with balconies and huge tubs for two—which should be checked for availability before booking here.
Hopefully the deep–pocket owner will address these issues and Casa Turire will reach the potential of its endearing qualities.
Web Address: www.hotelcasaturire.com
Total Number of Rooms: 8
Published rates: $135 to $290
Review and photos by Christopher Baker