Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge
Playa Carbonera Osa Peninsula
It figures that the world's first luxury ecolodge was built by two Minnesotans. Set in a 1,000-acre private nature reserve where the variety of species is vast enough that new ones are still being discovered, Lapa Rios Ecolodge hovers above an empty expanse and the Pacific beyond. It's rustic, sure, but the activities, the food and the macaws that are spectators to your swan dives into the pool override any minor inconveniences that come from living in a screened-in suite in the middle of the jungle.
All of the guest rooms are identical, with teak frames and screen windows, though some have king-size beds. With simple bamboo furnishings and roofs thatched from an Osa Peninsula palm, they're not exactly luxurious, but such is the price for access to unfettered, pristine nature. Showers with stone-laid floors offer a sense of the wild that awaits just steps from your bed. The most significant difference between rooms is location: Since the resort rolls up and down a hillside, the rooms with higher numbers are a lengthy hike up a hundred steps to dinner, the pool and the activity desk.
All the staff is local, so they know the area and its secrets, and are only too happy to share their favorite hiking trail. Well-trained guides can take guests into the jungle on numerous adventures like off-road horseback riding, butterfly searching or zip-lining. Because of the remote location, your first (and second) attempt to reach the reservation desk by phone may not be successful. Keep trying, though, and eventually you’ll get through.
You don't come here for the food. In fact, there's not even a chef on site. Still, with the resort's strict training and a low turnover rate, the beans-and-rice-with-fish dishes are more flavorful and inventive than anywhere else in the country (really). What you come here for is nature, and you're so close to nature, it literally wakes you up in the morning. (Thank you, howler monkeys.) Without leaving the grounds, you can see dozens of species of birds, monkeys and reptiles, and view the last untouched expanse of land in Central America. Contemplate all that nature during morning sun salutations on the new yoga deck—you'll feel like you're one of the last people left on earth.
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