Pueblo Nuevo, Bijagua, Alajuela, Costa Rica
For those who want jungle adventures and wildlife by day, pampering and plush rooms at night, Origins Luxury Lodge is an ideal getaway destination in green Costa Rica.
Refined and upscale are two words that come to mind when describing ORIGINS Lodge, but the experience does not leave out the rustic and playful nature of a stay in the tropical rainforest. This eco-conscious property, now part of Accor's Mantis brand, is under the aegis of a doting general manager that sees to it that guests in the seven villas (one of which has three bedrooms) have just the right mix of adventure and luxury for their liking.
There is no cookie-cutter mold here. From the moment that the staff reaches out to you in advance of your stay, the itinerary is designed around what guests want with a visit to the jungle. From all-day adventure (and there is plenty of it thanks to the numerous activities included in a stay here) to pampering in the spa to culinary dining worthy of a fine Parisian restaurant, a stay here is designed to perfection.
Following a 90-minute drive from Liberia (including a short bit on a rocky dirt road just before arriving), guests arrive to a lush dreamland with private bungalows dotting the hillside. The main lounge and dining area is where most social interaction takes place. It features a billiard table, library of guidebooks and board games, cocktail bar, wine cellar, and al fresco dining area.
The design of the space is meant to pay homage to the local tribes using décor that helps travelers learn more about the region as well as reclaimed wood in the furnishings. Greenery lines the conical roofs of most structures here helping the buildings to easily blend in with nature. An infinity-edge pool seems to spill off into the rainforest, and it's not uncommon for tropical birds and the occasional sloth to make an appearance.
The general manager greets all arrivals, and she is often seen interacting with guests throughout their stay to assure they are enjoying everything. Golf carts take you up the hillside to bungalows with outdoor terraces featuring a plunge pool heated by natural wood fireplaces. Day beds and lounge chairs make this the perfect place to relax and take in the ever-changing weather and scenery.
Linen-shrouded beds offer soft duvets and plump pillows with especially convenient light switches, twistable reading lights, power outlets on either side, and a ceiling fan overhead. Rooms lack TVs, phones, and air conditioning; none is missed. Guests can summon a golf cart ride or make a request by using the in-room walkie talkie.
Closet space abounds as well as another day bed and armchair, both of which are convenient during the regular rain showers that pass through. Window shutters permit wonderful air flow and views, but are closed during turndown service when locally made chocolate bars are left on the nightstand.
Despite the rustic surroundings, modern conveniences are never far, including an impressively fast wireless Internet signal that works throughout the grounds. A minibar is stocked with all the essentials, and Costa Rican coffee is a great way to wake up in the morning. All rooms feature umbrellas, rain ponchos, robes, slippers, and filtered water in glass bottles. Guests receive reusable bottles that they can refill at stations around the property, too.
Bathrooms are enormous and feature beautiful above-counter sinks, all-natural bug repellant and toiletries in ceramic jars, and extras like toothpaste, mouthwash, and an eco-friendly toothbrush. Enormous rainfall showers in the bathroom are a marvelous treat after a day of adventure, and the option for a second rainfall shower outside overlooking the valley is private with an entertaining view.
A sumptuous, made-to-order breakfast is included in the rates, and the option to tack on multi-course lunch and dinner for a flat $150 per person is a recommended option. Set menus are the standard, but the choices are designed around guests' dietary preferences. A celebrated French chef trained the local chefs here, which results in an impressive dining ambiance that would not be out of place in New York or Miami (except here, it's outdoors).
Presentation is exquisite, and around 70 percent of the ingredients are produced in the property's own organic garden (guests can take a tour if they wish). Superfoods feature heavily as does a creative fusion of Central American and Asian cuisine due to the chef's range of expertise. Drinks are not part of the meal package, but the list includes access to an impressive wine cellar. The menu options are rather surprising given the property's remote location (and Costa Rica's less-than-stellar culinary reputation), but is certainly synonymous with this caliber of property.
Included activities are a hallmark of a stay here with night safari hikes, cooking classes, lagoon fishing, and guided naturalist walks especially popular. The staff can also organize other tours like ziplining, tubing, standup paddle boarding, rafting, and visits to cacao plantations.
Privacy abounds given the small room count and spread-out nature of the resort. Whether you're horseback riding, lounging by the pool or doing yoga in the secluded pavilion, it's rare to see another guest except when dining. This is the type of resort that many travelers seek out to get away from it all.
There is nothing else like it in this part of northwestern Costa Rica, and the views of Lake Nicaragua and the lush rainforest make this a retreat for discerning vacationers looking for a high-end Costa Rican jungle experience.
Web Address: OriginsLodge.com
Total Number of Rooms: 9
Published rates: $696-2,248
Review and photos by Ramsey Qubein.