Adventure and luxury rarely combine so well as they do in Costa Rica. The Central American country that is barely the size of West Virginia holds half a million species of wildlife – some 4 percent of the world’s index of living species. And it also holds nearly as healthy a selection of the world’s top luxury resorts for those seeking an over-the-top-vacation in adventure and hospitality. Topping the list may be Villa Manzu on Costa Rica’s Papagayo Peninsula near Liberia. It’s a stay like no other in a lavish manse made for two or eight times that number.
With eight suites, 30,000 square feet of living space, 23 dedicated staff to serve, and two heated and private salt water pools, the wowing experience is best shared with some 14 of the couple’s favorite friends and family.
Whether for a wedding, a reunion, a celebration, a retreat or a promised family vacation, Villa Manzu can be an easy choice to make. It offers all the exotic wrappings that Costa Rica brings but with none of the sacrifices in convenience and comfort. That is because of location, mostly. While Villa Manzu is in its own jungle of shrouded and exquisitely private grounds – just steps away from the seductive Pacific surf, it is also within walking distance of the Four Seasons Costa Rica.
Every Suite a Palace
But a stay at the villa is more than a chic private home vacation. The service, the amenities, the precious interior design details … every need and want is anticipated here, from the children’s game room or the movie library room, to the outdoor yoga platform and waterfall-accented spa to the wine cellar, complete with fine cigars. Bedrooms are not bedrooms; they are palatial master suites with wings of their own.
And all suites pack in the extras, starting with the smart consoles for temperature, lights and sound and then the convenient extras, such as coffee service, full mini-bar, surround sound, iPod dock, entertainment systems and private decks. Naturally, at this level of luxury, the Villa has had its share of celebrity guests (Tip: grab the La Lora suite – rumored to have been Beyoncé’s choice when Kelly Rowland got married at the property in 2014).
Onsite Staff at Villa Manzu
Meals are prepared for guests onsite by a dedicated master chef and crew able to present feasts with accents from Europe to the Far East and all with the freshest of fruits from the local land and sea. Lavish picnics follow the parties on sailing missions and snorkeling adventures through remote coves.
Morning yoga over the Pacific? No problem. Villa Manzu offers a variety of skilled staff onsite – whether the need is for a full round of yoga salutations on the terrace as the sun rises for three fit and active members of the vacation party, or for two-hour massage treatments in a villa’s private spa that is flanked by two 30-foot waterfalls. Other guests can idle their time away by the two private saltwater pools – one an infinity pool over the ocean – or head down a quick path to the private beach.
Only in Costa Rica
For most guests, however, playing golf at the Four Seasons or getting out and exploring the wild ride that is Costa Rica is as much a reason to vacation in Costa Rica as the Villa.
The property features walking trails and equipment for guests use including bikes, golf carts, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and surfboards. The villa’s naturalist guide is available to lead a myriad adventures of to experience the culture and fun that defines Costa Rica.
Guests can enjoy fishing excursions, beach horseback riding, kayaking, Jet Ski adventures, snorkeling cruises, mountain biking into the jungle, tubing beneath forest canopies, and helicopter tours along the Pacific coastline. Coffee and chocolate tours can be arranged as well as surfing lessons, waterfall explorations, river rafting, cooking classes, dance lessons, you name it.
As most vacationers in Costa Rica are also action and adventure seekers, Villa Manzu offers a dedicated concierge ready to set guests on their quests to have a holiday like no other.
The following are the four must-do extreme adventures in Costa Rica for the active set:
Canyoning in Costa Rica
Canyoning in Costa Rica takes place in the areas of Turrialba, San Ramon, Miramar, La Fortuna and Rincon de la Vieja. Performed in small groups of up to 12 people accompanied by a guide, the activity includes walking, hiking, climbing and rappelling any or all of the six canyons available. This is an unusual Costa Rican experience because the country’s tropical canyons and climate provide travelers the opportunity to explore landscapes with lush vegetation and breathtaking views of waterfalls.
Mountain Biking through the Jungles
With miles and miles of rocky trails and tough terrains, Costa Rica is perfect for all kinds of two-wheeled fun. The country’s most demanding routes take various days, allowing travelers to cross the country. The average length of a mountain biking trip is five to eight, or even 10 days. Travelers can choose from professional routes such as “La Ruta de los Conquistadores,” which lasts three days, or opt for a shorter route that combines mountain biking with walking, rafting and kayaking. If seeking to go completely off-road, travelers can also choose a route that does not touch pavement at any point, such as the one at Rincon de la Vieja, comprised of 24 to 31 miles of waterfalls and downhill paths.
Trekking Through Captivating Terrain
With mountainous terrain and unspoiled rainforests, trekking through Costa Rica’s rainforests is inspiring. Unlike hiking, trekking, however, is a lengthier activity, with the average route lasting three days. The Savegre route, for instance, consists of various trails connected through agricultural towns that offer facilities and activities, allowing visitors to choose the points they want to explore. The Kamuk route takes at least five days of walking and travelers have to carry everything with them, including their own tent and food.
Sea Kayaking, Costa Rica Style
For travelers interested in sea kayak camping, the four-day route at Golfo Dulce, where different species of whales and dolphins give birth and nurse their young throughout the year, is a must. The trip begins at Puerto Jimenez and leads travelers up the coast at a rate of 12 miles per day. On the second day of the trip, travelers cross from one side of the gulf to the other. Travelers can take a rest at the campsite in Piedras Blancas National Park, at the opposite side of Osa Peninsula. For this trip, travelers have to take all essentials in the kayak with them, including their tent. Another popular route for sea kayak camping is the beginning at Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, through Rio San Juan and ending at Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge.
And the Adventure Continues
Costa Rica’s plethora of extreme adventures also includes skydiving in locations such as Manuel Antonio, Puntarenas and Esterillos, as well as scuba diving in Isla del Caño and Isla Catalina, where it’s possible for travelers to see giant devil rays. Travelers interested in surfing may also choose to visit Costa Rica for its massive waves. Some of Costa Rica’s most popular surf beaches include Jaco, the home of the 2016 International Surfing Association World Surfing Games, Playa Naranjo and Pavones.
Nights at Villa Manzu run $16,000 to $23,000 and the villa can only be reserved in its entirety. The Villa is located is about 40 minutes from Liberia International Airport.
Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.
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