Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
One of the most luxurious hotels in its region, with highly personalized service
Tucked high into the hillside of a 14-acre nature reserve, Gaia is our favorite hotel -- and one of the most luxurious -- in the Manuel Antonio resort region. Those looking for pampering will be hard-pressed to find a nearby property that matches Gaia's level of luxury.
As you pull into the hotel's entrance, a golf cart awaits to drive you up the steep, winding path that leads to the hotel's reception area (keep your eyes peeled for sloths and other wildlife along the way). After you check in and sip your delicious fruit juice concoction, your personal concierge will give you a private tour of the hotel. Need to make a dinner reservation? Just let your concierge know. Want to join the daily guided tour of the reserve? Ready to book your free 20-minute mini spa treatment, which each guest receives? They'll help with that, too.
Staying at Gaia gives guests a perfect blend of highly attentive, personalized service and a chance to be left completely alone to enjoy the quiet, private property. With only 22 rooms, guests will feel like they have the place to themselves; we never saw more than four to six guests at the pool at one time.
Right in the heart of Manuel Antonio, yet tucked away into the hillside of a nature reserve
Originally founded as a conservation center for native orchids and endangered species, the hotel still sits on a 14-acre reserve in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. The area is characterized by lowland coastal forests and continues to be a safe haven for the local environment, with only two acres inhabited by the hotel.
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Costa Rica, and one of the most popular with tourists. Its lush forests are home to howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, two- and three-toed sloths, toucans, parrots, and more, and line gorgeous stretches of perfect white sand. (Namely: Playa Espadilla Sur, an uncrowded beach that occasionally has rough surf; Playa Manuel Antonio, the park's most popular beach, with tidal pools and good snorkeling; and Playa Puerto Escondido, which has a blowhole in the rocks that shoots up water at high tide.) Just about every sort of outdoor activity is available in or near Manuel Antonio: hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, water sports, boating, horseback riding, waterfall rappelling, canopy safaris...the list goes on.
As to be expected from such a nice hotel, the rooms ranked among the best we saw in Manuel Antonio. Each room is outfitted with a wood floor; a huge, very comfortable bed; lots of rattan detailing; and at least a small sitting area (even in the lowest room category). The rooms are housed in three separate buildings, and every room is entered from outside. Room views do vary greatly, and can be of the ocean or the nature refuge below (or a combo of the two).
Bathrooms vary but are a stand-out feature in the rooms. They're decked out in natural materials, such as light-colored sandstone or darker slate.
The hotel takes its commitment to the environment very seriously, and the rooms feature eco-friendly lights. They're bit annoying to figure out, but it's worth it to help save the world.
Children under 13 are only allowed in three of the rooms; the rest are reserved for teenagers and adults.
All rooms include:
A small spa, cascading pools, and a nature refuge
The pool complex and the spa are the hotel's main features. Built into the hillside, a series of small pools cascade into one another. Only the top pool is really large enough to swim in, but the whole area -- complete with several small decks -- is very attractive, and it overlooks the nature reserve below and the ocean in the distance. There's also a Jacuzzi and a poolside bar, from which guests can order drinks and delicious, inexpensive tapas from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The spa is small but nice, and guests each receive a free 20-minute treatment of their choice. Some treatment rooms have views of the nature reserve, but overall the spa fails to take advantage of its beautiful surroundings (there are no outdoor spaces, for example).
La Luna is open for three meals a day and has 180-degree views of the ocean and the nature reserve below
La Luna is a bright, open-air restaurant with whirling ceiling fans and nightly live music. Dinner is served from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; lunch is served 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and breakfast (free for guests) is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m..
Guests will feel truly pampered at this adults-only, 22-room luxury hotel. Tucked into the hillside of a 14-acre nature reserve, Gaia feels appropriately exclusive and private, and has the attentive, personalized service to match. Rooms are spacious and airy; the great views are never-ending; and the freebies abound: breakfast, Wi-Fi, a mini spa treatment (to name a few). Keep your eyes peeled for iguanas, sloths, and the like.
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