If the term “eco-tourism” has you thinking about people sleeping under thatch roofs, think again. For years, the Costa Rican rainforest has welcomed the more sophisticated visitor to this delightfully green Central American bastion of all things sustainable, due to properties such as Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose. The sumptuous 300-room property has successfully recreated the grace and elegance of a 16th century Spanish colonial hacienda, flanked by a 30-acre coffee plantation amidst the pleasant rolling hills of the country’s central valley. This quiet rural area is just 15 minutes from downtown San Jose and an easy 5-minute cab ride from the international airport.
From its humble tourism beginnings as a destination sought out mainly by adventurous surfers looking for the big waves on the country’s rugged Pacific coast, or unpretentious birders content to explore its numerous national parks, Costa Rica has now come of age.
In 2008, the country welcomed over two million visitors and over the years the tourism industry has evolved steadily to meet an ever-widening range of visitor needs. When it opened in 1996, the Marriott San Jose set a standard as the country’s leading luxury property—a standard that it has clearly maintained to this day.
Rooms are spacious, bright and elegantly furnished and meticulous attention to detail is found everywhere, from the numerous antiques and handpainted Mexican ceramics throughout the public areas, to the wrought ironwork and delightful flower boxes that adorn the exterior. The 200 year-old roof tiles were imported from the colonial city of Granada in Nicaragua. And polished stone floors and deep rich woods set the mood in the lobby area that overlooks the open-air courtyard, reminiscent of the many grand colonial villas nearby used as dinner venues for up to 150.
Dining options include the elegant La Isabela Tapas & Wine Cellar, the laid back Antigua for casual Latin American cuisine, and the Casa del Café coffee and pastry shop. Amenities include two outdoor pools, three tennis courts, nature trails, a driving range and pro shop, and a modern fully-equipped health club and fitness center adjacent to the newly opened full-service Kuo Spa. The hotel offers 11,350 sf of flexible function space.
Nearby activities include guided visits to rainforests to experience the country’s amazing ecosystem, volcano excursions, rainforest zip line canopy tours, whitewater rafting and a selection of local golf courses.
The Costa Rica experience can be enhanced with a combined stay at Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, the 201-room sister hotel located on the Pacific coast less than two hours away. Built in 1999 in a similar colonial style, the property includes an 18-hole golf course and nearby full service marina offering all watersports, including charter fishing vessels.