The road to Alma del Pacifico Beach Hotel & Spa, located on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast and built in 2007, is paved with a lush Costa Rican rainforest landscape, not to mention a few intimidating crocodiles. Recommend visited this area of Costa Rica last year, and before arriving at Alma Del Pacifico from Juan Santamaria International Airport, we made a quick stop to see the infamous basking crocodiles at the Tarcoles River Bridge—a famous bridge where dozens of crocodiles can be seen lounging in the murky river waters below.
The side trip was a necessary break from the 2.5-hour car ride from the airport to the resort, but en-route to Alma there was no denying that the drive was well worth it; not only is it a beautiful commute, but it’s made for quick stops on the roadside for picture taking, especially once the Pacific Ocean comes into full view.
alma, at a glance
We arrived in the early afternoon, via a dirt road that led us from the main highway to the property, which is made up of 20 beachfront villas painted in pastel colors of blue, purple, and teal (the interior decor is a mixture of beige with explosions of red, blue, green, and yellow furniture accents and eclectic artwork).
Once night fell, the resort was enveloped in a natural blanket of darkness that many city dwellers forget exists, but the resort staff provides guests with a flashlight so they can make their way back to their rooms without walking aimlessly around the grounds.
Alma del Pacifico is set on a stretch of beach known as Playa Esterillos. General manager and part owner of Alma, Fernando Alfaro, points out that “Alma is located right in the middle of the ‘hotspot,’ between Jaco and Manuel Antonio. When travelers stay at our hotel, they enjoy a private beach to themselves, but still have the chance to visit the national park and all the other attractions within a 20-minute car ride.”
Accommodations range from the 455-sq.-ft. Garden Bungalow to the 800-sq.-ft. Deluxe Beachfront Villa. During our stay, we were shacked up in a Beachfront Villa—a spacious 745-sq.-ft. room with a private terrace facing the ocean, a large bathroom with dual sinks and a mosaic-tiled shower facing a private garden, adjoining living space with a comfy sofa and a TV that was rarely turned on. Three-bedroom condos and private homes are also available for nightly and weekly rentals.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner takes place at the resort’s only onsite restaurant, Pavilion, a thatched-roof, open-air seating dining area serving fresh produce and seafood. Produce and herbs like basil, lettuce, and tomatoes are grown at the resort in its greenhouse. Signature dishes are the fresh pan-fried red snapper (cooked whole) and presented with Caribbean-style rice and beans, while the hummus and tuna tartar are served as savory appetizers.
Adjacent to the restaurant is the Beach Bar, which was added to the resort in 2011. General manager Alfaro slyly slipped behind the bar and served the group a selection of cocktails with the finesse of a skilled bartender. Alma is the kind of resort where staff remembers your clients’ names in only a few days.
“We have a very loyal clientele,” says Alfaro. “Everybody who visits Alma wants to come back. Being a small, boutique hotel enables us to provide personalized service and develop close relationships (you could even say develop a friendship) with all the guests.”
Alma features an inviting jacuzzi and two pools as well as free bicycle rentals for guests. During our stay, we had no time to schedule a treatment at the intimate 4-room spa, so we missed the treatments that incorporate local elements.
time to explore
Costa Rica is made for the eco and adventure travelers—clients who want to spend less time in their rooms and more time out and about exploring the countryside via a zipline above the rainforest canopy; surfing at popular Costa Rican beaches; or discovering its marine life via a dive excursion.
Alfaro led us around the resort’s lush countryside (about 700 acres in total) on a 1.5-hour, horseback riding tour. An unforgettable moment occurred when the group came across a herd of white cattle emerging from a path in the rainforest—it was a sight to behold, but with these natural surroundings, not that unbelievable. The final stretch of the tour led us directly onto the beach heading back to Alma. Once we arrived, we tied our horses to a hitching post, and sat down for lunch at Pavilion. This relaxing ride is $35 pp.
A trip to Costa Rica isn’t complete without a ride on a surfboard, and it’s convenient that Alma offers surf classes with a private instructor. We had our lesson with a local company, Brett’s Board Rentals, complete with Brett himself, a U.S. native who started surfing in the area at a young age and decided to call Costa Rica home. The insecurity set in once we got into the water, but after a few attempts it was difficult for Brett and his team to get us out. Lessons are $50 pp for a 2-hour class (brettsboardrentals.com).
“Surfing lessons are always a hit! Also, most of the time, men go to enjoy the best sportfishing in the world, while the wives stay indulging themselves at the spa,” adds Alfaro.
Also on the agenda was a ziplining and aerial tram tour above the rainforest canopy with Rainforest Adventures. The tour included a 30-minute aerial ride over the canopy; a zipline tour in which we sailed above the rainforest on lines as long as 656 ft.; and a tour of the Serpentarium to view 20 different species of snakes indigenous to the area.
If your clients are interesting in stepping off the resort to try cuisine at local restaurants, Alma’s staff can definitely recommend a few hotspots. We recommend Los Almendros in Esterillos Oeste. Owner and native Canadian, Karen Young, greeted us and also made a few menu suggestions like the vegetable spring rolls served with a red pepper sauce and the patacones, green plantains flattened and fried and served with homemade refried beans. The Thai-style peanut sauce with tofu and Caribbean-style rice and beans was also a divine choice.
adventure junkie package
Alma del Pacifico is currently offering an Adrenaline Adventure package that includes 4-night accommodations; a 5-day economy car rental with GPS navigation system; a $100 dining credit for dinner at Pavilion or drinks at Beach Bar; a zipline canopy tour through the rainforest; a 2-hour ATV tour; and a day of white-water rafting on Savegre River (Class II-III rapids). Call for rates. ●
Alma del Pacifico Beach Hotel & Spa: (888) 960-ALMA; almadelpacifico.com