Santa Barbara de Heredia, Costa Rica
The jewel in the crown of a coffee estate, this exquisite boutique hotel with a quirky, one–of–a–kind design that is a delight on the eye, is utterly charming and proves that a fine jewel is made complete by its setting.
When the Jampol family decided to build a home on their small coffee finca on the lower slopes of Barva volcano outside Heredia, they hired renowned architect Francisco Rojas, who found inspiration in Gaudi's esoteric architectronic style. The result was a voluptuous whitewashed house rising organically from the earth. The result was a voluptuous whitewashed house rising organically from the earth. The orchards and coffee plants have grown out and today only the circular honeymoon suite pokes above the lush greenery, luring guests along the dirt approach road with eager anticipation.
Stepping through the doorway into the main building is a jaw–dropping experience as you stand on a multi–level wrap–around balcony overhanging the soaring atrium lounge. The balcony railings are of polished tree branches; the floor natural flagstone and glistening hardwoods. Modern sculptures, indigenous weavings, and a museum's–worth of pottery and eclectic adornments fill the sun–soaked interior centered on a mushroom–like hearth with a stovepipe chimney reaching up through the roof. A half–moon sofa is a comfy spot to relax by the crackling fire and commune with fellow guests or live–in owners Glenn and Teri Jampol over a glass of wine. Upstairs, an intimate library has a vast collection of art books and has a computer for Internet, although WiFi access is provided in all guest rooms.
Guests no longer dine family with the owners, who recently added a superb restaurant — El Vestido — with an option for outdoor dining on a wooden deck with shady arbor. Dinners here are a sublime treat using wholesome ingredients fresh from the inn's organic garden. Chef Pedro Alas trained with internationally acclaimed New York chef Ray Bradley before returning home to conjure mouth–watering gourmet dishes with a masterful touch. The menu offers such treats as cream of choyote soup, avocado stuffed with sea bass ceviche, hot chocolate mousse cake with blackberry sauce, and estate coffee. A cozy lounge bar with hearth tempts guests to curl up on a sofa with a coffee liqueur.
The main building features seven bedrooms (including six junior suites and an astounding Rosa Blanca Suite),plus six free–standing units stud the grounds: a master suite plus five junior suites, four of which can be combined to form two villas. Each boasts handcrafted hardwood furnishings and is uniquely and romantically themed with a mural reflection each room's motif. El Cafetal, for example, is adorned with a gracious trompe lóleil of a coffee farm. While each room is a charmer, the bi–level Rosa Blanca Suite is a whimsical, idiosyncratic delight with its oversize soaking tub resembling a natural pool and its two–person shower resembling a jungle cascade. A spiral staircase resembling a tree augers up to a circular bedroom with wrap–around wall of glass and a curtained canopied four–poster perfect for the once–in–a–lifetime honeymoon moment.
Glenn (an artist) and Teri (an accomplished cook) have converted their own home and art studio into the restaurant and adjoining spa offering massage and body treatments. A lovely infinity pool fed by a water–cascade is shaded by towering hardwood trees. The hotel has its own stables, and guided horseback trips head into the mountains above the inn, while an ecological trail good for a short hike leads through orchards and forest to a stream. Parking is in a separate area adjoining the estate's small coffee–processing facility. Coffee expert and barista Leo Vergnani leads fascinating tours of the organic coffee farm.
The Jampols are proud of their ecological sensitivity and have spared no expense to make Finca Rosa Blanca nature friendly. In fact, this environmentally state–of–the–art gem is one of only a few Costa Rican hotels to earn five leafs in the local Certified Sustainable Tourism program of which Glenn was a founder.
Web Address: www.fincarosablanca.com
Total Number of Rooms: 9
Published rates: $200 to $300
Review and photos by Christopher Baker