Paradise Found: We Visited Costa Rica

Discover made-to-order adventure in Costa Rica’s Villa Manzu.


GETTING WARMER At Villa Manzu, an intimate retreat in Costa Rica with beautiful rooms and healthy food, you can go zip-lining or stand-up paddleboarding. Courtesy Villa Manzu

In today’s constantly connected, overly shared, Insta-everything world, escaping to a private paradise to leave behind the posts, snaps and tweets is a true luxury. But with technology reaching nearly every corner of the globe, finding such a destination is rare. However, I found just that on a carefree getaway to Costa Rica’s picturesque Peninsula Papagayo, in the country’s northern Pacific Provence of Guanacaste.

If a visit to Costa Rica conjures up images of jungle treks, monkeys and the laidback Pura Vida vibe, this dry tropical rainforest region, not far from Santa Rosa National Park, is that and so much more. A recent visit was a well-balanced blend of adrenaline-charged adventure and blissful relaxation.

After a 40-minute drive from the Liberia airport, I was transported through lushly landscaped and impeccably groomed grounds to a welcoming estate known as Villa Manzu. In the language of the indigenous Chorotegan Indians, Manzu means “friends”—a suitable name for this exclusive eight-suite residence, situated on a cliff that extends out into the vast Pacific. Arriving at Villa Manzu, a harmonious display of Mayan, Balinese, Thai and local Chorotegan architectural influences, I was greeted by a gracious staff member who offered me a freshly peeled coconut pierced with a straw— a thirst-quenching treat that put the store-bought varieties to shame.

Although it has received plenty of recent social media shoutouts from celebrities including Zac Efron, Justin Bieber and the Kardashian crew, Villa Manzu maintains an air of seclusion for guests seeking an opportunity to recharge, reconnect and park the laptop  while avoiding resort crowds. With 30,000 square feet of artfully adorned space, the home offers plenty of room to spread out. An expansive outdoor patio serves as a gathering place for al fresco meals, swimming in a heated infinity-edge pool or simply lounging while enjoying attentive butler service. Amenities such as an on-site spa, fitness room and theater are available for guest use, and a stroll through the grounds reveals multiple inviting hammocks; Sunset Point (an idyllic spot to enjoy a cocktail as the sun fades); and numerous spaces perfect for peace and quiet.

Each spacious suite is finished in onyx, marble, custom tiling and Costa Rican hardwood detailing, yet boasts its own distinct layout and luxurious details—from a private two-story casita (the Flora and Madera suites) featuring a kitchenette, lounge area, ornate fixtures and hand-carved accents, to the glorious Pacifico Suite, complete with a private outdoor shower and sweeping views of the Pacific. The ground-level garden suites may not boast the same ocean views, but they are to be envied all the same with their private and serene settings. The nature-infused Naciente Suite has patio doors that swing open directly into a private plunge pool and Jacuzzi.


Courtesy Villa Manzu

Every morning, I was treated to the tantalizing aromas of breakfast prepared by a private chef with an array of choices to get the day going, including freshly baked goods, made-to-order omelettes, daily specials and refreshing fruit smoothies. While savoring every bite of breakfast, I prepared for the day’s adventures, which involved a private helicopter transport to nearby Diamante Eco-Adventure Park for adrenaline-pumping zip-line action, followed by a tour of the park’s animal sanctuary. There are plenty of other activities to fulfill a quest for adventure, including surfing at nearby Witch’s Rock, boat excursions, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, yoga, golf, tennis and diving. For those looking for a low-key afternoon, the residents’ Prieta Beach Club offers two lap pools and two restaurants, as well as poolside and beachside food and beverage service.

After an active day, the best way to unwind is with a hand-crafted cocktail while watching the sun sink into the sea at the villa’s Sunset Point. It may be difficult to pull yourself away from that breathtaking vista, but a divine culinary experience will be waiting on the patio. The chefs at Villa Manzu are extremely talented, and their artful creations of mouth-watering dishes such as Juanilama cured red snapper and grilled Delmonico ribeye served over spicy mustard, caramelized onion, kale and fennel relish are definitive proof.

Offering an individualized experience for every guest, the warm and welcoming staff at Villa Manzu specializes in creating customized itineraries and ensuring that your stay is extraordinary. With amazing eco-adventures, decadent dining and personalized attention all wrapped into one exceptionally beautiful setting, a stay at Villa Manzu offers an incredible opportunity to unplug and unwind so you can enjoy the ultimate luxury: leisure time.

Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica / 705.456.2698
Villa Manzu is a fully staffed, all-inclusive property with breakfast, lunch and dinner included in your stay. Weather is best described as tropical warm with an average year-round temperature above 85 degrees. Little rain and consistent heat are typical from November to April, and the wet green season is considered to be May to October—a time that has the best fishing, surfing and water conditions.

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