The ‘Good Life’

Live in lux­ury in the mid­dle of a Cen­tral Amer­i­can rain­for­est at this Costa Ri­can re­sort.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Travel - By PATTI NICK­ELL

MY FRIEND and I, along with our golf cart driver, creep through the bushes – flash­lights in hand and breath bated. Ev­ery so of­ten, we stop to stealth­ily part the bushes and qui­etly gush with de­light. To any­one who might hap­pen across us, our be­hav­iour would no doubt ap­pear sus­pi­cious, or at the very least, pe­cu­liar.

Here, at Na­yara Springs Re­sort in the mid­dle of a Costa Ri­can rain­for­est, it is nei­ther. We are on the re­sort’s noc­tur­nal “frog walk”, hop­ing to lo­cate the source of the loud trilling we have been hear­ing once the sun goes down.

We’re re­warded when our driver/guide Alexan­der’s flash­light beam lands on the most beau­ti­ful frog I’ve ever seen. Its tiny emer­ald body is dec­o­rated with a cobalt blue stripe on each leg, and at the mo­ment it is star­ing back at us with bulging scar­let peep­ers. Alex tells us it is a red-eyed tree frog, one of many species that can be found on Na­yara’s lush grounds.

I feel like a voyeur as our flash­light beam has ap­par­ently in­ter­rupted the fe­male frog’s flir­ta­tion with a male in a neigh­bour­ing tree. Af­ter what must seem like an eter­nity to the court­ing frogs, our lit­tle band mer­ci­fully moves on.

Frog-spotting is only one of the de­lights vis­i­tors to Na­yara Springs Re­sort, named the best re­sort in Cen­tral Amer­ica by Conde Nast Trav­eler Mag­a­zine, have in store for them.

The prop­erty, a two and a half hour drive from San Jose and lo­cated in the Are­nal Vol­cano Na­tional Park, is a rain­for­est re­treat that en­gages all the senses. Lis­ten to bird­song in the morn­ing and frogs in the evening; sniff trop­i­cal blos­soms; feel gen­tle pop-up rain show­ers,

and above all, see the lush green that sur­rounds you at ev­ery turn.

Check­ing into one of the prop­erty’s 35 vil­las is your own ad­ven­ture in par­adise. Decor is in­spired by the best of the trop­ics – gauzy mos­quito net­ting around the four-poster bed, lo­cal art on the walls, a mul­ti­coloured ham­mock for af­ter­noon sies­tas on the deck, and two fea­tures you won’t soon for­get – a two-per­son out­door shower that is a trop­i­cal oa­sis in it­self, and a pri­vate plunge pool fed by nat­u­ral min­eral hot springs.

While it might be tempt­ing to spend all your time loung­ing around your villa, please don’t – there are too many other things to do, such as the free bird-watch­ing tour (Mon­days and Thurs­days, 6.15am) or the com­pli­men­tary yoga class (ev­ery morn­ing at 8.15 in the yoga pav­il­ion).

As cof­fee is so much a part of Costa Rica’s cul­ture, my friend and I signed up for the cof­fee class (Mon­day, Thurs­day, Satur­day, 4pm) in Mi Cafecito. Diana, the man­ager, took us through the in­tri­ca­cies of cof­fee roast­ing, pro­vid­ing us with in­ter­est­ing fac­toids such as that lava from the vol­ca­noes re­sults in ex­cel­lent soil for cof­fee grow­ing, and the darker the cof­fee bean, the less caf­feine it has. Bet­ter yet, there is a tast­ing to ac­com­pany your tu­to­rial.

The re­sort can even ar­range for a three-hour pri­vate tour to an or­ganic cof­fee plan­ta­tion (adults, US$79 – RM338; chil­dren, US$63 – RM270).

Speak­ing of chil­dren, they are not al­lowed at Na­yara Springs un­less they are 16 or older; how­ever, fam­i­lies are wel­comed at its sis­ter re­sort Na­yara Ho­tel, Spa and Gar­dens, ac­cessed by cross­ing the 76.2m pedes­trian bridge through the rain­for­est that sep­a­rates the two prop­er­ties.

Eat­ing well at Na­yara Springs is a given, con­sid­er­ing the sheer num­ber of res­tau­rants scat­tered through­out the prop­erty, of­fer­ing ev­ery­thing from the fresh­est of sushi at Asia Luna to ro­man­tic can­dlelit din­ing at Amor Loco to the new­est restau­rant, Mis Amores, where you can dine on a deck over­look­ing the rain­for­est, with a view of the vol­cano.

While I found the qual­ity of the food at all of the res­tau­rants su­perb, my favourite din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence had to be at Alta Mira, which of­fers au­then­tic Costa Ri­can dishes in a ca­sual set­ting. I opted for one of the coun­try’s favourite com­fort foods – a choice of beef, chicken, pork or fish with rice, beans, green salad and sweet fried plan­tains, served with soft tor­tillas.

It was so de­li­cious that it was all I could do not to lick my plate.

Na­yara Springs’ ex­cel­lent concierge staff can ar­range any num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties for guests, from zi­plin­ing and canopy tour­ing to Grav­ity Falls Wa­ter­fall Jump­ing and Cany­on­ing in the Lost Canyon.

De­spite my dis­like of high places, I tried zi­plin­ing and canopy tour­ing on a pre­vi­ous trip to Costa Rica; as for wa­ter­fall jump­ing and cany­on­ing, I de­cided they were best ap­pre­ci­ated by watch­ing an In­di­ana Jones movie. In­stead, I set­tled on two tours that of­fered an op­por­tu­nity to see the coun­try’s land­scape and wildlife up close and per­sonal.

Costa Rica, a na­tion that is ap­prox­i­mately the size of North Carolina, has 100 vol­ca­noes, al­though only five are ac­tive, in­clud­ing Are­nal. On its Lava Walk Tour, I dis­cov­ered that the vol­cano, long be­lieved to be dor­mant, fi­nally blew its top in 1968, and while no lava has been seen since 2010, vol­ca­nol­o­gists be­lieve it is qui­etly bid­ing its time, wait­ing to shoot off its next dis­play of fire­works.

While you can’t climb all the way to the top be­cause of the po­ten­tial threat, you can take a trail about half-way up, stop­ping at sev­eral look­out points.

My sec­ond ex­pe­ri­ence turned out to be my favourite – a hike through the Danaus Eco­log­i­cal Re­serve. A ta­pes­try of flora and fauna that weaves to­gether a sec­ondary growth for­est, botan­i­cal gar­den, but­ter­fly farm and bird sanc­tu­ary, it is Costa Rica at its beau­ti­ful best.

On our two-hour hike, we saw tiny tree frogs and gi­ant elec­tric blue mor­pha butterflies; a three­toed sloth inch­ing down a tree and a caiman (crocodile) sun­ning on a stump in the la­goon; an over­sized iguana test­ing the strength of a spindly tree branch and a pro­ces­sion of leaf cut­ter ants mak­ing their or­derly trek back to their queen’s hive. We even saw a shy tou­can try­ing to hide its dis­tinc­tive yel­low head in the dense fo­liage.

No mat­ter which phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity you choose, the first place you might want to head when you re­turn to Na­yara Springs is its world-class spa. As if the phys­i­cal set­ting isn’t en­chant­ing enough – open air pav­il­ions that al­low the rain­for­est in­side and soak­ing pools strewn with blos­soms – the treat­ments make use of the area’s nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment: an ex­fo­li­a­tion us­ing grounds of a cof­fee from a nearby plan­ta­tion; scrubs with vol­canic mud and wraps of choco­late clay made from co­coa beans.

Costa Ri­cans have an ex­pres­sion – – mean­ing pure or good life. A stay at Na­yara Springs Re­sort will def­i­nitely have you liv­ing la Pura Vida. – Tri­bune News Ser­vice

A colour­ful macaw looks over the lap pool at Na­yara Springs Re­sort in Costa Rica. — Pho­tos: Na­yara Springs/TNS

A view of Are­nal Vol­cano from Na­yara Springs Re­sort in Costa Rica.

The Jacuzzi treat­ment pav­il­ion at the spa is a lush re­treat.

Pri­vate pools at the vil­las are fed by a nat­u­ral hot spring.

The spa at Na­yara Springs brings the rain­for­est in­side.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.