Carrerera A Punto Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Looking like a hotel plunked from a Greek or Turkish hillside and plopped down in the tropics, this white–on–white hotel with a view is a sophisticated addition to the lodging scene near Manuel Antonio National Park and beach.
How do you feel about the color white? The answer to that question may determine, more than anything else, whether The Shana Hotel & Residence is right for you. Every design element of the hotel, from the rooms to the restaurant to the spa, is a blank canvas—one meant to highlight the views, the food, and…you.
The nod to the Mediterranean coastline color scheme (or lack of one) is no coincidence: the Turkish owners also have a hotel in Bodrum. (This has got to be the only Latin American restaurant where I’ve heard Turkish pop music playing over the sound system.) In stark contrast to other area hotels that make use of local materials and handicrafts, Shana Hotel wants the forest and sea to get the spotlight.
The sea is in view from the rooms and public areas over the trees, but as this hotel is on the same peninsula as Arenas del Mar, you need to take a taxi to the main beach or national park. You can reach one small and rocky beach on foot from the hotel, but there are few facilities there: usually limited to a vendor selling sodas and someone renting kayaks.
There is a large pool with plenty of deck space, outfitted with quality lounge chairs and a few daybeds. It is shared with several condo buildings that look identical to the single one with guest rooms—making this look like a larger hotel than it actually is. It’s not unusual to spot spider monkeys frolicking in the trees, like the one pictured here snapped right next to the pool.
There's a full spa on-site with hot stone, deep tissue and even chocolate massages, in addition to their other body and facial treatments. The all–white restaurant with cushioned chairs seems meant for design magazine photographers, but there are some poolside tables also for those in damp bathing suits and towels. Despite the place just celebrating its grand opening when I arrived, the Gusto Restaurant was humming like an established operation and the chef was serving inventive meat and seafood dishes backed up by a good wine selection. Popping against the blank background, meals are presented with a colorful flair and utilize many organic ingredients.
The rooms are designed in a similar monochrome fashion to the public areas, which will undoubtedly make some guests swoon, but may give others bad memories of the last time they were in a hospital. Either way, this is a tough place to be a maid. White duvets on white linens are on the exquisitely comfortable beds. Surrounding them are white sofas, white lamps, and even white TV stands or wall frames. All rooms have minibars, flat TVs with minimal English channels, ergonomic desk chairs, robes, slippers, safes, and spacious baths equipped with custom high-end toiletries. Baths are outfitted with contrasting dark granite and tile. Standard rooms have spa showers with multiple jets, while deluxe rooms and suites add a large soaking tub and double vanities. The nine junior suites here are definitely worth the step up, with double the size of the standard rooms, a king bed, more furniture, and a larger furnished terrace or balcony. The one “lifestyle suite” is the equivalent of a presidential suite. Situated next to the spa, it has multiple rooms and its own pool.
The Shana Hotel is trying to step things up on the service front as well, offering a butler service to every guest. The butler is on call to unpack clothing, arrange excursions, make restaurant reservations, or whatever else will make your stay special. This upscale hotel will surely become a magnet for fashion photo shoots and editors looking for some place striking to put in their next “It List” or “What’s Hot” issue. Shana has a strong personality and a bold designer swagger, but thankfully doesn’t drop the ball on functionality. If a room with a view and stylish surroundings are at the top of your own wish list, be assured that this is a designer hotel also offering great food and a comfortable stay.
Web Address: www.shanahotel.com/
Total number of rooms: 27
Published Rates: $200 to $1,650 BB
Review and photos by Timothy Scott