TRAVEL

Sharp - - EDITOR’S LETTER -

Living like Jay Z and Bey­oncé in Costa Rica. (Or: how to get the most out of your pri­vate villa.)

In Costa Rica’s lush Penin­sula Pa­pa­gayo, Bianca Teix­eira dis­cov­ers the plea­sures of ditch­ing a hotel room in favour of her own pri­vate villa

DO YOU SEE THAT HOUSE at the edge of the cliff?” our cap­tain asks, point­ing up into the sky. He’s been talk­ing since we took to the water, and I’ll ad­mit to only half-pay­ing at­ten­tion. I caught this di­rec­tive though, so I turned my head lazily into the sun­light to look. Hun­dreds of feet above the Pa­cific Ocean, through a dense canopy of trees, the wind­ing bal­cony of a pri­vate home is just barely vis­i­ble. “That’s where Jay-z and Bey­oncé stay when they come to Costa Rica,” he says. I am all ears.

We’re just off the Penin­sula Papa- gayo, a 2,300-acre par­adise brim­ming with a mix­ture of jun­gles (I’m told there are over 9,000 species of plants) and serene beaches of white, coral, gray, and black sands. We’re not stay­ing at the same villa as the The Fam­ily Carter do (de­spite my fer­vent-but-sub­tle sug­ges­tions), but our own ac­com­mo­da­tions at Ex­clu­sive Re­sorts are only a five-minute golf cart ride away. So, we’re ba­si­cally neigh­bours.

For the last few years, Ex­clu­sive Re­sorts has been cre­at­ing experiences that ag­gres­sively defy trav­ellers’ ex­pec­ta­tions. For the price of a mem­ber­ship (start­ing at $85,000 USD) and an­nual dues (start­ing at $1,250 USD), guests have ac­cess to one of the group’s 400 vil­las around the world — when­ever they want. It’s a grow­ing trend and a shift in the lux­ury mar­ket: like the Carters, va­ca­tion­ers in search of ex­trav­a­gance and pri­vacy have de­cided to es­chew up­scale ho­tels in favour of pri­vate vil­las that re­mind them of home. Sit­ting in one such villa, I think back to Airbnbs I’ve had the mis­for­tune of stay­ing in, homes that didn’t quite live up to their photos. The four-bed­room res­i­dence that will be mine for a

week in the Penin­sula Pa­pa­gayo is ev­ery bit as awe-in­spir­ing as it looked on­line. Nes­tled in the cliffs of the penin­sula over­look­ing the coast, each villa en­joys the kind of seclu­sion that acres of wilder­ness af­ford you — al­beit seclu­sion with a fully stocked bar, ridicu­lously thor­ough clean­ing ser­vice, and an ex­ec­u­tive chef that makes house calls.

It was the per­fect base from which to ex­plore that above-men­tioned Costa Ri­can jun­gle. When the boat fi­nally docked, I found my­self perched lit­er­ally atop one of those 9,000 trees, star­ing down tou­cans and spi­der mon­keys while strapped to a (supremely ter­ri­fy­ing) 400-foot zip line. Glid­ing through the trees and over a rush­ing river, I was over­whelmed by the nat­u­ral beauty around me. This must be what Bey­oncé feels like when she en­ters a sta­dium, also in a har­ness.

And the best part: a spe­cially pre­pared four-course din­ner was wait­ing for us when we re­turned to the villa. We didn’t have to wade through buf­fets or even sit with other guests — un­less you count the ca­puchin mon­keys who swung by an­gling for a snack. Ex­clu­siv­ity, it turns out, has its perks.

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