Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
With spacious private villas spread throughout a lush 5-acre property, the adult-only Nayara Springs hotel gives couples their own slice of exotic paradise surrounded by pristine rain forest, a flowing river and the majestic volcano.
It's hard to choose which part of the Nayara Springs complex to focus on first. The sister hotel to Nayara excels in all aspects of being a top-rated resort in Latin America. From the moment you cross the bridge into the exclusive area and check into your roomy villa, a feeling of serenity, tranquility and amazement arises. It's hard not to gasp in awe as tall bamboo ceilings, an indoor and outdoor rain head shower, a towel heater, and a luscious large four-posted king size bed greets you.
But that's not even the best part.
The sliding glass doors at the foot of the bed open to a large hardwood terrace. There a private plunge pool with heated natural mineral spring water sits, with a haze of steam rising slowly from the top. A hammock and daybed flank either side of the terrace, surrounded by a meticulously manicured garden with vibrant flowers and foliage, creating the utmost sense of privacy.
If you can pry yourself away from the pool, hammock, or daybed, there is a large indoor sitting area furnished with a lavish chandelier, a large TV, and comfy couches. The staff leave a thoughtful welcome gift of wine and exotic Costa Rican fruit. With an included minibar and complimentary breakfast in-house, you may only occasionally find a reason to leave your villa.
You may want to venture out eventually though and embark on the many adventures offered in the Arenal area or relax in the Nayara Springs luxurious spa. The three-room spa is not large but with only 16 villas to attend to, visitors will slip into heavenly bliss in their private outdoor massage room set high up in the rain forest.
Choose from a variety of spa services such as a hot stone massage, a chocolate scrub, a yogurt wrap, or a romantic couples massage. If you're not sure which one of the many sumptuous treatments is for you, pick the Nayara signature one. Using volcanic mud to bring peace and good energy to the mind and body, this is a 100-minute-long treatment. First it releases tension in the muscles, followed by a traditional massage using volcanic mud to soothe the skin. They then wrap you in towels to absorb the minerals of the mud while finishing up with a relaxing facial. No one walks away feeling any less than completely relaxed, rejuvenated, and revitalized as their body is transformed by the hallmark feature of the Arenal area: volcanic mud.
When you're ready to venture out for some excitement and adventure, you can take advantage of the several courtesy tours. Due to this Costa Rican resort's location, a plethora of tropical birds and exotic wildlife live in the neighboring trees. You can take a complimentary bird watching tour to spot the exquisite rainbow toucans, charming fruit bats, and chirping poison dart frogs. If you're lucky, which you likely will be as the guides have incredibly sharp eyes, you will see Tony the sloth lounging in the trees of the parking lot. Wildlife is never far from your door at Nayara Springs.
You can also head to the large lap pool to lounge the day away, sipping on refreshing fruit smoothies and munching on pool snacks. The lunch restaurant, Terrace by the Pool offers a simple snack and fast food menu, nothing to be blown away by.
The evening restaurant, Amor Loco, is something to be impressed by however. With live music every night, plush purple velvet chairs, photos of Old Hollywood stars, and an onyx bar top, Amor Loco lives up to its name. Food was much more refined by far, the Mediterranean menu featuring savory dishes such as tuna tartar, seafood bouillabaisse, and filet mignon with a side of pateacute;.
Service at the restaurant is equally as attentive and warm as the rest of the hotel. Staff members always have a smile on their face, eagerly waiting to greet you and help you with every need. La Fortuna may be one of the most touristic places in Costa Rica, but the local Tico charm has not disappeared. If anything it shines through even more as majority of the staff members are Fortuna locals, known for their extreme kindness and hospitality.
When you wander throughout the well-tended property, it feels like navigating through a very tidy jungle that you could call your own. Villas are astutely hidden under the layers of flourishing vegetation, the well-equipped gym and yoga studios keep the same inspiring architecture, and youÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½ll see signs of wildlife more than you see signs of humans. Privacy, intimacy, and comfort are easy to find at this adults-only luxury resort.
Though Nayara Springs caters towards honeymooners or couples hoping to channel their inner sloth, any adventure-loving couple will enjoy this extravagant boutique resort. It's ideal for a splurge at $680 a night but the elegantly designed villas, private pool, exceptional service will delight. Additional amenities like free international phone calls, free laundry, nightly turndown service, morning yoga, and complimentary Wi-Fi almost make it feel like a deal. The offerings and service all combine to create an atmostphere that has led to a long list of accolades, including one naming it the top resort in Latin America.
Web Address: www.nayarasprings.com
Total Number of Rooms: 16 Villas
Published rates: $450 - $850 BB plus taxes
Review and photos by Samantha Wei