12km north of La Fortuna, Arenal, Costa Rica
Hidden in a picturesque rural valley folded into the fertile skirts of stunning Arenal Volcano, far from the crowds, rises a beautiful new luxury property surrounded with cascading hot springs to sooth the soul.
The Springs, a fresh and decidedly opulent offering from the creative geniuses behind recommended Peace Lodge, has only recently opened to the public, and was still partially under construction during our visit. When completed, it will raise the bar for luxury lodging in this already popular region.
Secluded, exclusive, and architecturally stunning, The Springs is blessed with truly outstanding views of Arenal Volcano’s awesome and almost perfectly symmetrical lava–streaked cone, around which every superb vista in this fine hotel has been constructed. You’ll be taken by the views almost immediately, as you enter the soaring five–story main lodge, its gleaming floor inlaid with Brazilian granite and Peruvian marble beneath a symphony of laurel and cane archways, all subtly illuminated by stunning stained glass as well as handcrafted wrought–iron and paper chandeliers. Every supple curve in this organically inspired architectural wonder is homage to that grand volcano, every polished portico, relaxing rocking chair, and elegant sitting area angled toward its majesty.
Secreted throughout the lodge and enormous property are eight bars and restaurants (with more to come), also arranged around that inspiring vision. Some offer more casual ambiance, such the poolside Treetops Grill, serving salads, burgers and other light fare overlooking the rainforest; and Los Perdidos Bar, hidden in a jungled grotto, with similarly casual ambiance. Light eaters could enjoy refined Japanese cuisine at poolside Ginger Sushi, while others could indulge in the spectacular buffet Tres Cascadas (Three Waterfalls). The finest dining experience on offer, however, Las Ventanas, “The Windows,” serving upscale fare focused on fresh and healthy local ingredients with five–star flair in truly spectacular environs. Enormous windows wrap around the divinely lit dining room, offering an experience of eating atop a rainforest canopy in full view of the volcano, rich greens fading to violet and gold with sunset, when distant towns sparkle like gemstones along Arenal’s flank.
Look straight down, however, to appreciate what is this property’s other top-tier amenity, a series of 18 lusciously landscaped hot springs (more are planned) ranging in temperature from 76°F (24°C) to 103°F (39°C). For the finest volcano views, warmest pools, and access to the outstanding wet bar, stick close to the pool, replete with waterfalls and cold plunges, and surrounded with plenty of sun chairs and shaded hammocks for the ultimate in relaxation. Or follow the 100–meter “Heliconia Trail,” lined with more than 150 species of vibrant tropical blossoms to Perdido (“Lost”) Springs, a second cascade of pools enfolded into a rainforest wonderland. Twelve more pools are planned along the pretty Arenal River, below.
Though not all of the pools are naturally heated, the thermal waters are still saturated with a healing mixture bicarbonates and chlorides guaranteed to wash your stress away. Though you might give them a push out the door with a visit to The Springs’ exquisite spa, offering a variety of massages and other treatments within the beautiful interior. Do try one of the masks, made with rich volcanic clays harvested right here. Then, perhaps, explore the property’s trails, on foot or horseback; they also plan to offer kayaking and fishing on the river that threads the picturesque property.
Or simply retire to your exquisite room, with a more elegant, less fanciful approach to full luxury than the Peace Lodge, though gorgeously organic extras reflect their commitment to a natural touch. Beautiful, king–sized beds are hewn from polished raw logs, while freeform mirrors and tables are constructed from slabs of precious wood. Each room is designed with an outdoor component as well, a porch or terrace furnished with hammocks, rocking chairs, and wonderful volcano views.
Even the smallest rooms radiate a warm elegance in earth tones and cane detailing, and include marble bathrooms with enormous Jacuzzi tubs and multiple–head showers. Despite the sylvan ambiance, all are equipped with modern amenities including 37” flat–screen satellite televisions, iPod/MP3–ready surround sound stereo systems (the speakers are secreted throughout the cozy bedroom), telephones, Wi–Fi, safe, and fully stocked minifridges and coffee makers. Suites might include microwaves, refrigerators and outstanding wet bars that include several selections of red and white wine.
Villas and suites are expansive masterpieces, with several rooms, even larger Jacuzzi baths, and wonderful details such as stained glass masterpieces evoking Costa Rica’s natural wonders. Some even have terraces furnished with heated plunge pools, all with stunning volcano views. Visitors should, however, note that at press time, most lava was not visible from this side of the mountain – things change, so ask before committing if that’s a priority. Ask for a room well away from the current work if construction is still going on when you plan to visit. All in all, this is a masterpiece in motion, and The Springs provides a wonderfully plush vacation in paradise.
Web Address: www.thespringscostarica.com
Total number of suites: 20 (and rising)
Published Rates: Rooms $425–$750; Villas $1,100–$1750
Review and photos by Paige Penland