Making Friends with Costa Rica

So, you want to do the tropical paradise thing, but your checklist is demanding. Near perfect hot weather without the humidity. Glorious beaches for sunning and  watersports, but jungle, mountains and even volcanoes close by for expeditions and adventure. And of course this all has to be enjoyed from your base in a private luxury residence that is a destination in itself.

Well, the location has to be Guanacaste province in northwestern Costa Rica, that country’s most glorious and popular destination. In addition to boasting some of the Central America’s most beautiful beaches, Guanacaste enjoys a variety of exotic topography. Mountain ranges, volcanoes, rivers and waterfalls offer endless options for recreation and adventure.

The seven national parks in Guanacaste have preserved a wide array of flora and fauna and include active volcanoes and misty, high-mountain cloud forests. Spectacular surfing and deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, ATV tours, zip line, horseback riding, camping and hiking are just some of the active options available.

The Costa Rica luxury villa that best does justice to the natural glories of Guanacaste is Villa Manzu. Boasting a private location, nestled on five acres on Peninsula Papagayo,  the 30,000-square-foot residence offers mesmerizing ocean views from each of its oversized bedroom suites, as well as its own private beach.

Hammocks, chairs and idyllic rest areas dot the grounds, providing the leisure to drink in 180-degree views, monkeys cavorting in lush foliage and an assortment of tropical birds whose rainbow plumage has to be seen to be believed. You can also admire the custom wooden sculptures created by artist Carlos Valenzuela from local trees.

The Guanacaste luxury villa was designed by visionary architect   Abraham Valenzuela, who incorporates Balinese, Mayan, Thai and indigenous influences in his spacious creation. He designed the villa so that some point of beauty or art is always in view. Everywhere you turn, there is another elegant hallway leading to a new, artfully designed open space with a dramatic view of nature. Custom-made doorways are carved with images of African, Indian and Latin cultures, framed by intricately woven copper pipes. Above are custom-designed ceilings with hand- placed stone patterns inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Nights” and the famous Papagayo winds. Below are similar swirling patterns on the floors, representing the tree of life that connects the cultures of the guests who pass through the villa.

The word “Manzu” is from the Chorotegan language of the indigenous people of Costa Rica and means “friends.” And friends are what the villa staff might become.  Trained to the highest level of service, they include a chef, concierge, driver, housekeepers, waiters, bartender, adventure specialists and even an English-speaking naturalist.

Cocktails can be enjoyed at an outdoor bar near the heated infinity-edge pool that spills dramatically into two 30-foot waterfalls, whose waters flow by a floating platform that contains the villa’s private spa (with a full menu of pampering massages and body treatments, administered by a staff of therapeutic professionals). There is also a heated plunge pool near the home gym, sauna and steam room. Indoors, the spacious entertainment room provides a pool table and a fully stocked bar.

You can of course use the villa’s surfboards, paddle-boards, kayaks, bikes, fishing equipment and the like, as well as taking advantage of the services and amenities of the Four Seasons resort (which operates all of the facilities on Peninsula Papagayo), including an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, the Papagayo Marina, the Prieta Beach Club and the Golf and Tennis Clubhouse.


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