By Chelsea Rose Moore | Photos courtesy of Playa Cativo Lodge
What do you see when you close your eyes and picture paradise on earth? Many of us imagine quiet beaches accented by sweeping sunsets, a glass of wine in hand, and a place to give our bodies and souls rest. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Playa Cativo Lodge, The Goodstone Inn’s sister property in Costa Rica. You’ll discover an oasis for your soul.
“The property itself is very special,” said General Manager Allen Mairena. “It’s a feeling [here], and it’s really hard to explain. Having nature in your face all the time makes you change. Every single guest who comes and stays with us appreciates that. Living in peace with nature and enjoying it, every day—that’s what’s special.”
Located on the coast of Golfo Dulce in the Osa Peninsula, Playa Cativo is situated on what National Geographic has called “the most biologically intense place on the planet.” The adventure begins with the journey to the resort, as it’s only reachable by a 30-minute boat ride. During the ride, guests often catch glimpses of dolphins, humpback whales and turtles, setting the stage for the dreaminess ahead. The resort is surrounded by the Piedras Blancas National Park, protecting 35,000 acres of tropical rainforest (which includes 750 species of trees, 367 species of birds, 140 species of mammals, 117 species of reptiles, and nearly 10,000 species of insects).
The resort has a total of 18 rooms, small enough to feel like a private paradise. Luxurious rooms overlook the ocean and rainforest and offer the natural sounds of the environment—birds, monkeys and frogs.
With a hyper-focus on sustainability, the resort uses solar-panels, recycles plastic and plants organic gardens—all in hopes of creating a better world for future generations to enjoy. They frequently involve guests in their efforts to raise awareness about sustainability, so guests can replicate the process at home. The resort is creating a biological research station to allow long-term study of the rainforest and the creatures inhabiting it (projected completion is May 2018).
One of the resort’s sustainability initiatives is their Cayetano Organic Farm, which supplies 70 to 80 percent of food served at the resort’s fine dining restaurant. Guests are encouraged to tour the farm, learn about the process of planting and harvesting, and can even help harvest fresh produce. The farmers emphasize the importance of raising happy animals, and they feed pigs leftover food from the restaurant’s kitchen to reduce waste.
Their farm-to-table restaurant, El Gavilán Restaurant, offers a multi-sensory dining experience capturing the history and culture of Costa Rica. Through the aromas, tastes and meal presentation, guests learn stories of local towns, climate zones, and the north and south pacific. Guests interested in the culinary arts can take cooking classes at the resort to learn more about Costa Rican cuisine.
Playa Cativo’s TripAdvisor is filled with glowing reviews, with guests detailing the attentiveness of staff, stunning setting, and the magical feeling of being in paradise. Some guests have even visited both Playa Cativo and The Goodstone Inn and have fallen in love with both properties.
The two hotels work closely together, from promoting each other, to holding the same standard of excellence and attention to detail. They are both owned by Mark Betts, who opened The Goodstone Inn in the late 1990s and Playa Cativo in June 2014.
“[Playa Cativo] is such a magical place,” said Marketing and Sales Director Cesar Vargas. “There is this energy—as soon as you get off the boat and step on the property, it covers you. It’s something I really can’t explain. I fell in love with it.”
Guests can choose from an extensive list of activities to incorporate into their stay. Tours range from adventurous to relaxing and include nature hikes, massages in the rainforest, snorkeling trips, and nocturnal rainforest expeditions.
“We customize everything for our guests,” said Vargas. “Every package will be different according to your likes. When a guest arrives, they will be introduced to one of our nature guides. [We ask] if they like more adventure or relaxation, and we make a special itinerary for them.” The itinerary, he pointed out, is not dependent on the resort’s schedule or timeline but is tailored to the preferences of its guests.
Another point of interest is the yoga platforms, where guests can take classes. If a guest has a particular interest in yoga, they can select a day of yoga on paddleboards or spend a morning practicing yoga on the beachfront. The resort also offers a fresh water, chemical-free swimming pool with stunning views of the ocean and a small library filled with books on the natural history and culture of Costa Rica.
“What I like about the hotel is that it’s very small, very boutique, and very unique,” said Vargas. “It makes a unique experience for all of our guests. One of the most common comments we get is that [visiting the resort] is the experience of a lifetime.” ML