Nayara Springs Rating: 5.0 Pearls
Luxurious in every way, the 16-room, adult-only resort Nayara Springs is the top resort in the area for couples seeking romance and privacy -- but who can do without volcano views. Large, rustic-luxe rooms have a bevy of free amenities (free minibar items, free international calls) and gadgets (Bluetooth music players, espresso machines), all of which you pay for in the room rate. Its nearest competitor is the Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens, which happens to be its family-friendly sister property next door (volcano views are on offer there). The hotel is only a 15-minute ride into the town of La Fortuna, but most guests seem to spend the majority of their time on the property.
Tulemar Bungalows & Villas Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Tulemar Bungalow & Villas manages to combine the privacy of bungalow living and the convenience of full hotel services, without any sense of pretension. There are 45 luxury residences spread out on a 33-acre resort that includes private access to Tulemar Beach, which has one of the only beach-facing restaurants in Manuel Antonio. Rooms range from homey, but older, Bungalows with floor-to-ceiling windows to over-the-top Casa Las Nubes with gasp-inducing architecture and a semi-indoor infinity-edge pool. All units come with free Wi-Fi and a personal concierge. Buena Vista del Sol serves up food and drinks near one of the four infinity-edge pools, but breakfast isn't included with the price of a room.
Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The beautiful Arenal Nayara's 44 individual bungalows, restaurant, wine bar, and spa are all tucked into incredibly lush grounds. Some of the amenities are small (pool, spa, fitness center), but guests come here for the private bungalows with special touches like an outdoor garden shower and a deck with a Jacuzzi and hammock. It's more luxurious than nearby Arenal Kioro, but Kioro's rooms have better volcano views.
Gaia Hotel And Reserve Rating: 4.5 Pearls
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.
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo Rating: 5.0 Pearls
Easily among the most luxurious resorts in Central America, The Four Seasons is as close to perfection as it gets. With two beautiful beaches, ocean views from each one of the sumptuous rooms -- decorated in materials including wood, bamboo, and stone -- and an 18-hole golf course, the resort makes it possible for guests to spend their whole vacation on-site. Those who do choose to explore beyond Peninsula Papagayo should note that the roads in Guanacaste are in poor condition.
Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Tabacon is the original and best-known resort in the Arenal Volcano area, and is deservedly famous for its 18 natural hot springs at the Tabacon spa property up the street, which are the most extensive in the region. This 102-room, eco-friendly spa resort and local institution is a sensuous Eden in a relatively remote area on the west side of the volcano, about a 20-minute drive from La Fortuna and other sights. Rooms are large, modern, and sophisticated, with beautiful rainforest (and sometimes volcano) views.
The Springs Resort and Spa at Arenal Rating: 4.5 Pearls
A posh wonderland for affluent Americans and their kids, the 47-room luxury resort The Springs is 165 acres of seemingly endless pools and hot springs, restaurants, and activities -- all hidden on a volcano-facing slope seemingly in the middle of nowhere. (Expect a long, bumpy ride to and from the hotel that will dissuade you from day trips off the property). The Club Rio outdoor center allows guests to experience everything from river tubing to horseback riding right on-site. Rooms range from standard hotel rooms with good views of the volcano to entire villas modeled after Swiss ski chalets.
Arenas Del Mar Beach And Nature Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Arenas del Mar is proof that staying at an eco-resort doesn't mean roughing it: Its 38 contemporary rooms are among the nicest in Manuel Antonio, its restaurant is excellent, and its public spaces embody rustic luxury. The property's lush rainforest, two beautiful white-sand beaches on site -- a rarity in the area -- and diverse wildlife allow guests to truly connect with the nature that the resort's design so painstakingly preserved. But the 11-acre property is steep, so you'll need to call for a hotel golf cart to go just about anywhere.
Hotel Punta Islita Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This ultra-remote, rustic luxe hideaway is worth the bumpy, two-and-a-half hour drive from Liberia Airport. The rooms aren't as impressive as those at larger luxury resorts in the region, but the unparalleled views, stunning infinity pool, and ruggedly beautiful (if rocky) beach more than compensate. Plus, this is a hotel with a heart: Punta Islita is environmentally friendly, and gives back to the local community.