Arenal Volcano National Park 33021, La Fortuna de San Carlos
Gazing up at Arenal volcano, this sumptuous resort inspired by a Balinese aesthetic combines a sensational locale with the most luxurious and romantic accommodations for miles.
First–time guests arriving at Arenal Nayara audibly gasp as they arrive at the cobbled porte–cochere surrounded by effusive tropical foliage, and step into the airy lobby to be enveloped by Zen–like calm. Tranquility suffuses this gorgeous hotel, with its bold new color scheme echoing nature. The sensation is of having been transported to Bali — not least thanks to the Indonesian furnishings, and the overwhelming presence of Arenal Volcano simmering at what seems like fingertip distance.
Walls splashed in avocado green, a glossy hardwood floor, rattan ceiling, and the dark mahogany furnishings heaped with cushions in lively tropical pastels combine to create a delightful welcome. The lobby opens rearward to a cobble courtyard and the wall–less Altamira Restaurant, with its terracotta floor and bamboo roof dripping with Chinese–style paper lanterns. The menu focuses on Costa Rican dishes but also offers globe–spanning options such as tuna tartare, gnocchi pesto, and a tableside banana flambé; it also has a prix–fixe three–course option. Inset in the lush grounds is a small amoeba–shaped pool with thatched swim–up bar and a half–moon sundeck with lounge chairs. The revamp includes the addition of Sushi Amor — a sushi restaurant with a more traditional Costa Rican styling. A new wine bar serves canapés and a wine selection — heavily focused on South American labels — guaranteed to please oenophiles.
As if Arenal Nayara weren't gorgeous enough, the hotel recently revamped and expanded its private casitas: newer, more secluded bungalows are higher up the sloping grounds and have the best views. The style echoes that of the lobby, with vaulted bamboo roofs, curtained hand–crafted four–poster beds with plump down comforters atop shiny hardwood floors, and white linens and orange cushions as counterpoints to the avocado walls. Although not ascetic, the focus is on simplicity and rooms are airy, spacious, and uncluttered.
Each unit boasts a terrace and garden enclosed by thick foliage for privacy and inset with a two–person whirlpool tub. Standard accoutrements include a DVD player, iPod docking station, and Wi–Fi. Outdoor "rainforest" showers let you cleanse naked in nature, while the Nayara Suites offer extras such as robes and also feature glass‐enclosed showers to put you on display in the center of each bathroom. The two–bedroom Springs Villa opts for a lighter all–white touch and has its own plunge pool.
Guests can treat themselves to a facial, massage, coffee scrub, or volcanic mud treatment beneath thatch at the hotel's alfresco spa, which has a well–equipped gym. The hotel makes arrangements for local adventure activities — a forte of this region — and offers its own daily guided walking tours on a lava field. Arenal Nayara's sensual mood lends itself to romancing couples gazing together at Arenal Volcano and is especially great for honeymooning, while adventure–minded guests will love the abundant options beyond the grounds.
Web Address: www.arenalnayara.com
Total Number of Rooms: 50
Published rates: $245 to $590 BB
Review by Christopher P Baker photos courtesy of Nayara Hotel.