Playa Santa Teresa, Nicoya, Costa Rica
With its stupendous oceanfront position and gorgeous Asiatic–inspired aesthetic, Florblanca Resort is in a league of its own as a small boutique beachfront hotel with panache, offering true luxe in an equally luxuriant coastal setting. The resort's success is all the more remarkable for its location on an otherwise avowedly low–key surfer's beach.
Stretching along seven acres of forested beachfront and named for the “flor blanca” whose white petals form a fragrant carpet underfoot, this understatedly chic retreat draws its inspiration from Bali. The hotel is hidden by a low wall at the far north end of a gorgeously rugged gray–sand beach, beyond which the dirt coast road turns into an Indiana Jones–style adventure.
You turn off the dirt road into a spacious stone paved parking lot, separated from the resort proper by a low wall. Beyond the entranceway, charcoal–gray flagstone paths ease down through a glade of palms and almond and plumeria trees offering tantalizing glimpses of the surf. Riotous foliage rises all around, hiding the villas to each side. The path spills down to the multi–purpose, open–walled main building edging up to the beach. Here, the small reception adjoins the restaurant and bar overlooking a stone paved sundeck arcing around two freeform pools—one with gradual wade–in access—overhung by a Balinese–style lounging palapa that doubles at night as a lovers' private dining terrace.
The core of the social scene is the poolside Nectar Restaurant and Bar, a lofty timbered space whose arcing cocktail bar doubles as a sushi bar. Spencer Graves is Florblanca’s Executive Chef. Graves has been with the resort for four years and sets the standard to beat along the entire Pacific coast of Costa Rica by combining inspired creativity and exemplary execution with a conscientious pursuit of only the freshest and finest ingredients. The menu is sure to please a wide audience, and Graves is delighted to meet individual requests. Sushi here is simply mouth–watering. Even the multi–course breakfasts are a lavish treat. And the bar serves a complete list of cocktails.
When not munching and tippling, you can laze in the air–conditioned TV room, take a yoga class held in a beachside Yoga Shala, or walk the beach good for tidepooling and spotting wildlife along the jungled shore (swimming is not advised directly in front of the hotel due to powerful undertows and the rocky reef break; a ten-minute stroll south leads to safer waters). Surf lessons are offered, as are snorkeling excursions, horseback rides, and guided nature walks in nearby Cabo Blanco Absolute Wildlife Refuge. And a broad range of treatments are offered in the luxurious Bamboo Spa. The private Jacuzzi in the designated room for couples invites lingering and relaxation. Immersed in the tropical forest and surrounded by shallow pools and cascades, the spa exudes a tranquility that massages your body, mind and soul.
The ten vast villas nestle deep amid the hillside foliage. Villas 1,2 and 11(also known as the Honeymoon House) have ocean views. The Surf House is a converted beachfront home housing up to six guests. Done up throughout in soft ochres and creams, with teak accents and furnishings, these simply luxurious quarters offer genuine terra cotta underfoot, while ceiling fans stir the air in huge lounges (open to the elements on three sides; drop down screens offer protection in inclement weather) extending to arching terraces with rattan lounge chairs.
Each unit has a dining space, wet bar with receptacles for recycling, poured–cement sofa, and understated decor featuring the occasional Balinese mask and Costa Rican water colors and craft pieces. Bedrooms are air–conditioned and feature lofty teak king beds resting on a poured concrete headboard shelf, supporting rolled–bamboo lamps plus halogen reading lamps. An overhead rack supports a ceiling fan directly over the bed, plus a romantic muslin canopy drape.
Accoutrements include an iPod docking station and telephone plus in–room safe. Outdoor bathrooms set in walled gardens are a visual delight with their poured concrete sink and countertops, shaded shower, and sunken two–person tub shaped like a boat. Florblanca is proud of its well-developed sustainability program, the efforts of which are showcased in a wooden picture book decorating each villa’s living area.
The youthful staff (many are keen surfers) deliver enthusiastic service. The overall mood is professional yet laid–back and unpretentious. Nonetheless, this lovely hotel is sufficiently sophisticated to have drawn the likes of the Kennedys. Visitors interested in more of a back–to–nature experience without forgoing the creature comforts of home should consider the nearby Latitude 10° Resort.
Web Address: www.florblanca.com
Total Number of Rooms: 12 (10 villas, the Honeymoon House and the Surf House)
Published rates: $350 to $850