Costa Rica’s hip hilltop hideaway
153 Rooms / 21 Suites
At the open-air reception area overlooking the crystal-clear waters of Culebra Bay in northwestern Costa Rica, arriving guests at Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort are greeted with a cold towel and a glass of mint iced tea. The vibe here is all about blending in with the surrounding environment in natural, albeit very stylish ways. Rooms built on the quiet, 28-acre stretch of forest on the Pacific coast are decorated with driftwood and shells collected from the hotel’s private beaches. Service at the hilltop resort is friendly and accommodating — one staff member will check you in, escort you via golf cart to your room and serve as the point person for the duration of your stay. Guests receive complimentary hats, flip-flops, and hand-woven beach totes, as well as bowls of fresh mangos and granadilla each morning.
There’s a free-flowing, organic design to this protected coastal paradise. Costa Rican architect Ronald Zurcher was inspired by shapes of cocoons and seashells, and both are incorporated in the natural indoor/outdoor design of the resort. Andaz hotels aim to capture local culture, and this property is no different — surfer brothers Alex and Mike Faherty wrote a guide to surfing Costa Rica for resort guests, the hotel soundtrack is filled with Costa Rica songs, and art exhibits and musical performances by local artists are curated through Andaz Salon, the hotel’s cultural program.
The 153 spacious guest rooms and 21 suites are warm and modern with natural materials, driftwood handicrafts, lamps inspired by the oropendola (a local bird), woven textiles and stunning local artwork. No room is less than 550 square feet in size and have all have views of either the jungle-like surrounding landscape or of the bay. Glass-door showers let you take in the natural beauty outside, and from the large balconies you can get a private viewing of monkeys swaying through branches.
Two private beaches are a quick walk down the hillside and have adventurous amenities like snorkeling, paddle boarding and kayaking. Walking and hiking trails around the resort beckon to those who want to get closer to nature. And those looking to laze about can sunbath at one of two cascading infinity pools or at the 11,000-square-foot spa, which incorporates organic ingredients culled from the local terrain.
Andaz has three restaurants. Chao Pescao Small Plates & Bar serves Caribbean-inspired fare and features live Latin music. Ostra specializes in just-caught seafood prepared Costa Rican-style. And Rio Bhongo, an all-day eatery serves healthy eats and pastries, as well as wine, Costa Rican chocolates and teas. Each day, the hotel coffee program showcases a unique new blend, crafted solely for the resort by local distributors Cafe Britt. For a midday snack, you can’t beat the affogato, a vanilla gelato topped with hot espresso.