Between Punta Leona and Playa Herradura, Costa Rica
Perched 1000 feet (350 meters) above sea level with breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline and spread throughout 395 acres of land bursting with foliage, the setting alone makes Villa Caletas a prime destination. French visionary and former interior designer to Arabian princes Denis Roy has added tropical Victorian architecture, eclectic and sumptuous indoor and outdoor décor and highly professional staff to create a one-of-a-kind luxury destination on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.
In spite of Villa Caletas’ remote hilltop feel, you are far from isolated. One of the country’s liveliest beach towns—Jacó—is just a twenty–minute drive away along the highway. A ten-minute drive or 30–minute walk along a nature trail leads to a secluded slice of beach. (The hotel provides all transportation to Jacó and to the beach in shuttles and chauffeured golf carts.) What’s more, San José is just a two hour journey by car or a quick helicopter ride. Inviting a sense of community, Villa Caletas hosts an annual music festival as well as various social and cultural events throughout the year in its intimate venues, including the hotel’s renowned Greek- inspired amphitheatre. Importantly, the property is designed and managed in a way that facilitates gatherings and also maintains plenty secluded space.
Eight types of rooms decorate the Villa Caletas property. Few guest quarters share walls and the lush landscaping takes care of sight lines. All rooms are spacious and equipped with modern conveniences such as flat–screen TVs, stereo surround sound, and wireless internet. The large bathrooms, some with sunken Jacuzzi tubs and vistas to the lush exterior, invite lingering. Roomy private terraces covered with comfortable seating and above–ground Jacuzzi tubs provide a relaxing environment to admire the view and to spot the toucans, macaws and coatis that call home to the surrounding forest. In addition to the hotel’s main vanishing–edge swimming pool, the Junior Suite Superior rooms and the Zephyr Palace have private vanishing–edge pools.
The seven–room Zephyr Palace offers the finest accommodation. Each room in the mansion has a theme. The Suite Africana draws parallels between the untamed outdoors of Africa and the wild tropical environment of Costa Rica with a wall mural, exotic furnishings, floor–to–ceiling windows and a huge terrace. Villa Caletas’ Zephyr Palace also houses a large salon, a formal dining area with a coved ceiling featuring a fresco, a meeting area for up to forty people, two terraces facing the Pacific, and a disco.
With an amphitheatre offering one of the country’s most spectacular views and accommodations and amenities to match, it’s no surprise that Villa Caletas is a premier destination for weddings. (I ran into a wedding planner from the United States during my visit who said that Villa Caletas was her favorite place to organize weddings in Costa Rica not only for its stunning location and great food, but also for its professional staff.) While several areas throughout the hotel can accommodate events, the Zephyr Palace would be ideal for an executive retreat or a private wedding.
A great dining experience is a priority. Three restaurants at Villa Caletas present international cuisine with a French twist. There is also a full vegetarian menu. The Mirador Restaurant serves five–course meals in a fine–dining atmosphere. In combination with the adjacent terrace, the area can accommodate up to 200 people. For couples interested in a romantic retreat, there is a separate tiny nook with ocean views and a table set for two. (Dinner reservations are required.) The Amphitheatre Restaurant and Bar faces west and proves popular with visitors eager to take in one of the fabulous sunsets. The third restaurant sits at the edge of Villa Caletas beach.
Beyond lounging poolside and basking in the sun at Villa Caletas beach, you can enjoy a variety of amenities and participate in an array of activities. The small Serenity Spa tempts relaxation with a comprehensive list of treatments. Its signature Serenity massage, characterized by its long, firm strokes, is sure to soothe the mind and relieve weary muscles. The nearby glass–walled gym, enveloped by walking palms, is not big, but it is enough to squeeze in a brisk workout. Yoga classes are offered on the weekends for free and per request on weekdays. You can also take a self–guided walking tour, learn how to weave palm leaves into purses and shop at the on–site boutiques selling everything from sundresses to Pre–Columbian jewelry by L.A. Cano. And the concierge can help arrange a travel itinerary or reserve tours.
Being a good neighbor has been at the top of Denis Roy’s list since he opened Villa Caletas with just eight rooms and a restaurant in 1989. Working hand in hand with the local community, he has reforested the land formerly used for agriculture and built a well–developed sustainability program: logging is forbidden on the property; recycling is the norm; a hydroponic garden supplies the kitchen with vegetables; buildings are topped with solar panels; community outreach fosters ties with the people in the area; and employees benefit from ongoing training programs. Villa Caletas strives to be the best and it shows.
Web Address: www.villacaletas.com
Total Number of Rooms: 52
Published rates: $180 to $1,600 ($7,500 for the entire Zephyr Palace)
Review by Beverly Gallagher, small photos by author, the rest courtesy of Villa Caletas.