Think Costa Rica and images of beaches and surfing, rain forests and zip lining come to mind. Soaring in an ultralight high above cloud-covered mountain peaks or horseback riding in a fully outfitted equestrian arena are experiences one may associate with a destination resort in, say, Northern California. Indeed, Mark Harmon, managing partner of Napa-based Auberge Resorts, recognized the uniqueness of the seven-month-old Hacienda AltaGracia in Pérez Zeledón, a 30-minute flight south from the country’s capital, San José, and took it on last August as Auberge’s first resort in Central America. Not that there was much to do to the already luxurious property built by visionary Costa Rican Alberto Esquivel, who owns the 865 acres it sits on and first constructed it as a family estate.
“The resort was very well thought out,” says general manager Juan Paolo Alfonso. “Don Alberto flew one of his ultralights over the property, mapped out the site plan with cardboard cutouts of the 50 casitas, and positioned each one with unobstructed views and privacy.”
The casitas, which range in size from large suites to two-bedroom residences, feature fireplaces, panoramic terraces, and an overall homey feel with cozy throws, candles, and original artwork. Our favorite was Master Casita No. 11, with its Jacuzzi bathtub, oversized walk-in closet, and close proximity to the property’s three exceptional dining venues (all breads, pastries, pasta, and even ice cream are made on the premises).
In addition to its own airstrip, 28 stables, and challenging mountain biking trails, AltaGracia boasts the largest spa in Central America, with a state-of-the-art fitness center and a stunning indoor pool housed in a 30-foot-high glass structure that frames the sprawling valley below. Yet, despite its size, the spa feels intimate and private, much like the resort itself.
Suites from $350; Santa Teresa de Cajon; 855-812-2212; altagracia.aubergeresorts.com.