Small fitness center with great equipment; personal training available
Breakfast included in the room rate
Free shuttle service to the beach, and parking
Two desktop computers, printers, and fax machine available
Free Wi-Fi throughout
No direct beach access and nothing within walking distance
Most rooms don't allow children under 13 (pro for some)
Pools are on the small side
Fitness center inconveniently located at the foot of the property
Limited room service
This intimate luxury hotel located a 10-minute drive from the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the area's top options. Tucked into the hillside of a 14-acre nature reserve, Gaia feels appropriately exclusive and private, and has the attentive, personalized service to match. Freebies abound: a terrific a la carte breakfast, tours of the reserve, a mini spa treatment, and Wi-Fi, to name a few. The hotel’s 22 rooms, which include suites, studios, and villas, are stylishly decorated with lots of natural materials like stone, wood, and wicker. Jungle and ocean views claim the spotlight from almost every corner -- highlighted by the multi-tiered infinity pool and open-air restaurant. The hotel has a spa and a small gym. Note that only Loft and Loft Deluxe Suites allow children under 13. Travelers might want to compare rates and amenities -- and rules regarding children -- with Arenas Del Mar Beach and Nature Resort.
Tranquil, boutique retreat blending contemporary design with a picturesque natural landscape
Perched on a hillside, Gaia Hotel and Reserve sits on the former site of Jardin Gaia, a center for native orchid conservation and endangered wildlife rehabilitation. Fitting for a hotel named after the Greek goddess of the earth, Gaia has earned four (out of five) leaves in the country’s Sustainable Tourism Certification program. While its three gleaming white guest-room buildings contrast markedly with their natural surroundings, the hotel still somehow feels part of the jungle. Greenery edges every pathway, and iguanas, monkeys, and other wildlife can often be spotted.
Guests arrive at the foot of the property, from where they are shuttled by golf cart up to the reception area. Set in a handsome room at the back of the restaurant, the reception looks more like an intimate lounge than a typical lobby. Gaia takes full advantage of its elevated location, with its breezy restaurant, distinctive pool, and many guest rooms offering operatic views over rolling hillsides and the distant ocean.
Once an adult-only property, the hotel now accommodates kids in its Loft and Loft Deluxe Suites -- all other room categories require guests to be at least 13 years of age. The hotel continues to be most popular with couples, with its refined look and atmosphere projecting a mature vibe.
On a 14-acre nature reserve, a short drive from Manuel Antonio National Park
Gaia Hotel and Reserve is located along a quiet, tree-lined road running between the town of Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park. Aside from a few other hotels, there’s not much within walking distance. It’s a five-minute drive to Quepos, which serves as Manuel Antonio’s hub for dining, shopping, and other services. The entrance to Manuel Antonio is less than a 10-minute drive away. It’s Costa Rica’s smallest national park, but one of its most popular, offering fantastic wildlife-viewing opportunities and great beaches. The lively surf town of Jaco is a little more than an hour’s drive from the hotel, while San Jose and Juan Santamaria Airport are both a little over two hours by car.
Rooms include suites, studios, and villas with beautiful living areas and slate-accented bathrooms
The 22 rooms at Gaia Hotel and Reserve, with stone and polished hardwood floors, exude eco-chic elegance. Cream-colored walls are adorned with understated local artwork. All rooms include plush beds with 500-thread-count linens, and separate living areas with wood and wicker furniture. Living areas have minibars, sofa beds, and dining tables of varying sizes. Tea-and-coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi, and LED smart TVs with Netflix are also standard. Closets -- some of which are walk-in -- hold bathrobes, slippers, and personal safes.
Slate-tiled bathrooms have glass-walled showers along with modish square sinks and toilets. Hairdryers and bath products by Blue Organics are provided. Some rooms have whirlpool tubs and double sinks. Villas, which measure 2,000 square feet, have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and some rooms have split-level layouts.
Views differ significantly from room to room, with some facing toward the lush surrounding hills and others featuring views of the Pacific Ocean. Not all rooms have balconies or terraces. Studios, which measure 350 square feet, have shared patios, with some upper-level rooms offering private balconies or rooftop terraces. Some suites have semi-private pools, or shallow “reflection” pools, which exist more for their aesthetic appeal than actual swimming.
Striking pool area, top-notch restaurant with free breakfast, and free shuttle service to the beach
Gaia Hotel has some showstopping features. The multi-tiered pool area has infinity edges overlooking the rain forest, as well as a whirlpool, a swim-up bar, and soothing waterfall features. Although eye-catching, the pools are a tad small. A stone staircase runs along one side of the pools, connecting the swim-up bar at the top to a compact wooden sundeck with loungers and beach umbrellas. The pool bar offers a light food menu, which includes tapas and sandwiches.
The hotel’s brilliant restaurant, La Luna, shares its open-air dining pavilion with Ambar Lounge. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Manuel Antonio National Park, the dining area pairs rattan armchairs with a wood-beamed ceiling and a gorgeous bar backed by a bold red accent wall. The menu is a mix of international and local cuisine, and there’s an excellent wine list. Live music is featured every day during happy hour. Breakfast, which is included in the room rate, serves a buffet as well as a small a la carte menu. Room rates also include two free tapas and two house cocktails.
The small but outstanding Terra Spa has six treatment rooms, a dry sauna, a steam room, and a hair salon. Its serene design incorporates stone, wood, and plant-life, with the main treatment room featuring dramatic rain-forest vistas. Body wraps, scrubs, and facial treatments incorporate organic local ingredients like honey, coffee, volcanic clay, and coconut. A choice of three different 20-minute treatments is included in the room rate.
The tiny but modern fitness center is open 24/7, and offers cardio equipment, free weights, and Apollo 5 multipurpose work stations. It’s set in an independent building in the parking lot, a long walk or short golf cart ride away from the guest rooms. A business center in the reception area has two PCs as well as a printer and fax machine. There’s also a meeting room that can accommodate up to 40 guests. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.
A free shuttle service to and from the beaches of Manual Antonio and the town of Quepos operates during the morning and afternoon. Other perks included in the room rate are concierge services, a movie and book library, as well as a guided walking tour of the hotel’s nature reserve. Guests can park for free in a lot found at the foot of the property, from where golf carts provide transport up to the hotel.
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