Costa Rica’s luxury spa in the trees
If there’s one thing to show up early for during a tropical vacation, it’s a spa appointment at Onda Spa, a luxury retreat tucked away in the trees at Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica. You’ll want the extra time to browse the organic ingredient bar of powdered rice and beans, aloe, and sugar cane for your custom-made masks and body scrubs. Or you might prefer the additional minutes to sip an iced green tea mixed with mint and lavender (grown on the property) in your private treatment room overlooking peaceful Culebra Bay. Much like the resort, the spa incorporates local cultural and design elements to evoke a serious sense of place an authentic Costa Rican experience.
The nine-room, 11,000-square foot spa operates with a “no two guests are the same” policy, which is why patrons have a hand in choosing everything from the type of music played during services to the flavor of a post-treatment cup of tea. The 20-person staff aims to make the entire experience custom. Onda itself is perched on a hill in the forest about 2,000 feet above the resort’s reception area and guest rooms, which makes the botanical-focused spa feel like a remote, private place to unwind.
Upon check-in, you are escorted to a locker room stocked with cotton robes, towels, slippers and a small steam room. Treatment rooms feature outdoor showers and terraces, so you can leisurely take in the ocean breezes or spy monkeys swinging through the trees. Two of the three Onda suites have soaking tubs and private relaxation areas, ideal for couples. All spa guests can use the facility amenities like the 24-hour fitness center and outdoor plunge pool.
Treatments are built upon the healing power of water, natural local ingredients and ancient Costa Rican techniques. A perennially popular option is the Awaken scrub. The dry skin remedy is made of powdered rice and beans mixed with olive oil; it was inspired by the traditional Costa Rican breakfast. And don’t hesitate to book the signature massage, a riff on a deep tissue massage during which a technician works a bamboo stick into tense muscles, or the Costa Rican mud clay wrap, which incorporates detoxifying white clay from the area’s Arenal Volcano.
The Costa Rica spa suggests you arrive 45 minutes in advance if planning to experience a cambio treatment, which allows you to pick ingredients (mixed freshly) for services ranging from massages and wraps to facials and pedicures. The result is a sensory experience tailored to your individual needs. (Aside from the products made on the premises, Onda uses organic beauty products made by Biosfera, a Costa Rican company headquartered about two hours away.) Guests can keep the relaxation going with post-treatment additions like a scalp massage, an anti-aging eye treatment or an aromatherapy soak in a treatment room bathtub.