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One of the most luxurious hotels in its region, with highly personalized service
The hotel's fruit juice concoction
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 29 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.
- 5-minute drive to Quepos, a town with a six-block radius of restaurants, gift shops, and casinos
- 7-minute drive to Manuel Antonio National Park entrance
- 1-hour drive to Jaco, a party-friendly beach town to the north
- 1-hour drive to Playa Uvita, a stunning beach to the south located in Marina Bellena National Park, where you can watch humpback whales between December and April
- 2.5-to 3-hour drive from Juan Santamaria Airport and San Jose
- 4-hour drive to Corcovado National Park, one of the country's best -- and most remote -- National Parks, with untouched beaches and diverse wildlife
- 5-hour drive to La Fortuna/Arenal
Big, bright rooms with attractive bathrooms and comfortable beds; some have great views
Jungle View Studio
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.
All rooms include:
- Wood floors
- Free Wi-Fi
- Couch and/or sofa-bed
- 25-inch or larger flat-screen TV
- Coffeemaker with free tea and coffee
- Closet with a big safe, additional bedding, and robes
- Lots of whicker detailing (for example, the couch, the coffee table the trash bin, the frame of the full-length mirror)
- Bathroom with an attractive shower and overall design; Aveda and Molton Brown bath products; and hairdryer. Lack of counter space in some bathrooms.
- Plush beds with 500 thread count sheets
- Two guests included in price of room (except Two-Bedroom Villa, which includes four guests in price of room); $75 per night for each additional guest
- Jungle View Studio: 350 square feet; king bed; pull-out sofa; sitting area; four person maximum
- Studio: 350 square feet; king bed; pull-out sofa; sitting area; shared patio with table and chairs; four person maximum
- Jungle View Suite: 700 square feet; king bed; sitting area with pull-out sofa; four person maximum
- Suite: 700 square feet; king bed; separate living room with pull-out sofa; dining room seating for four; balcony, Jacuzzi tub that fits two; four person maximum
- Deluxe Suite: 700 square feet; king bed; separate living room with pull-out sofa; dining room seating for four; balcony; 600-square foot private rooftop terrace with reflection pool, table with umbrella and three chairs, and cabana for two; Jacuzzi tub that fits two; balcony with two cushioned loungers and ocean views; four person maximum
- Gaia Suite: 1,100 square feet; king bed; separate living room with pull-out sofa; 1.5 bathrooms, dining room seating for four; two flat-screen TVs; 12 by 18-foot pool and enclosed garden; Jacuzzi that fits four; 15-foot ceilings; four person maximum
- Two Bedroom Villa: 2,000 square feet; two bedrooms, each with king beds; two bathrooms; two sofa beds; three flat-screen TVs; dining room seating for six; Jacuzzi that fits four; 150-square-foot terrace off the bedroom; 500-square-foot rooftop terrace with reflection pool; three levels; eight guest maximum
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).
Overall the hotel offers lots of freebies: the mini spa treatment, lending library, Wi-Fi, an excellent a la carte breakfast, beach and airport shuttle, and business center.
- Terra Spa has a dry sauna, steam room, salon room for manicures and hair appointments, and a Vichy rain shower.
- Small fitness center with cardio machines, strength machines, and weights open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; personal training available for $65 per hour.
- Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel
- Business Center with fax, copier, scanner, desktop computers with internet
- Eco-friendly initiatives include recycling bins throughout property and low-energy lighting.
- Free guided walk through the 14-acre nature reserve on which the hotel sits. Leaves every morning at 7 a.m.
- Concierge can help arrange a number of half- or full-day excursions, such as a guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park or surf lessons.
- Free shuttle to the beach, Quepos, the local airport, and other nearby destinations; available 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Private dining room attached to La Luna restaurant for small events; local art for sale lines the walls.
- Lending library of books and DVDs from reception
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..
- Ambar Lounge is the restaurant's bar area, which serves delicious tapas from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- The same tapas menu is available by the pool from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Items include sesame-crusted tuna medallions, fish ceviche, mushroom minestra, and coconut shrimp.
- 24-hour room service, with a special late-night menu from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- An a la carte breakfast is included in the price of the room. It’s served in the main restaurant and is not to be missed. Sip on your choice of fresh fruit juice as waiters come around with a fruit platter and a tray of delicious breads -- and that’s before you even order your entrée.
- Request to have your breakfast in your room for no extra charge.
Guests will feel truly pampered at this adults-only, 29-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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Things You Should Know About Gaia Hotel And Reserve
- Km 2.7 Quepos-Manuel Antonio, Manuel Antonio, , 6350, CR
- Deluxe Suite
- Gaia Suite
- Jungle View Studio
- Jungle View Suite
- Two Bedroom Villa