Monday, June 27, 2011

Volcanic Hot Springs @ Tabacon Resort, Costa Rica

If you needed just one more reason on why you have to visit Costa Rica, then Tabacon Resort is pretty much it.
We've been blogging along in our Costa Rica Travel Series and have saved the best for last. Hip + urban husband (huh?) complained that we were flying five hours to Costa Rica to basically sit in a hot tub.
Boy, did he bite his tongue when we arrived at this volcanic hot springs eco lodge. Picture a spa wonderland of hot, natural pools of water that are heated by the active Arenal Volcano. This ain't no mini hotel hot tub missy. All the water used in the resort via your shower, tub or sink is mineral-rich and thermal heated by the volcano. There are no hot water heaters in your hotel room, everything is natural. The hotel filters the water for guest use.

The Honeymoon Suite
An average guest room for two people including access to the hot springs will run around $175/night, depending on the time of year. High season for Tabacon Resort is from December to April. Take a shuttle van just five minutes down the hill to the hot springs and spend an afternoon floating from pool to pool, staring at waterfalls, lounging in the sun or drinking at the swim-up bar. 
Tabacon Resort itself has 114 rooms with a capacity of 250 guests and caters to lots of young couples and honeymooners. Tabacon operated as just the hot springs in 1994. The family-owned hotel opened with 40 rooms in 1996 and grew from there. Tabacon is incredibly eco-conscious with only 20% of resort waste going into a landfill. The rest is recycled or composted. The hotel also plants a tree at 10 am daily and guests can join in on a tree planting ceremony. Over 1000+ trees have been planted so far in this program.
Cold water rinse (left). Giant soaker Jacuzzi tub with rainfall shower head (right).
We ate dinner at the on-site restaurant, Los Tucanes and the food was outstanding. Make sure you pay a visit to Leopoldo Cortes, an award-winning Chef from Mexico and try the langoustine mousse stuffed raviolis, flamb├ęd in champagne and mussels cream. You won't regret it.

The minerals in the water will do wonders for your skin, especially after a long and harsh Canadian winter. The pool areas range in size from small to large and from shallow to shoulder deep. The terrain can be rocky, so watch your step. The waterfall above had a built in grotto to sit behind and stairs to get in and out. 
Only 450 passes are sold per day, so the pools are never too crowded and there are over 17 to choose from with lots of nooks and crannies for privacy. Access is included for Tabacon guests and day passes are available starting from $70 with a lunch or dinner option. Staying at the hotel is definitely worthwhile at $175 for two people vs. $140 just for the spa pass.
Relaxing to the sound of waterfalls in the Costa Rican sun (above). 
The grounds are lush and beautifully landscaped. If you're on a getaway with your significant other or celebrating something special, make sure you book the 'Idyllic Massage for Two' ($390/105 minutes) inside The Grand Spa. It will be the most memorable and romantic spa experience of your life. Picture side-by-side massages in a private outdoor cabana hut in the rain forest with the sound of running water next to your head. The treatment starts with the washing of the feet in an aromatic soak, before your marathon full-body massage. After your treatment, your therapists will set up a private outdoor soaking tub with champagne and fruit for you and your guest to enjoy. Pure bliss.
The spa also offers mud wraps, facials, mani/pedis and yoga classes. As a guest of the spa, you can enjoy a private lounge area, separate change rooms, lockers, fresh fruit smoothies, tea, water and a hot tub. If all else can water slide. There is a small restaurant on-site by the thermal springs and a busy swim-up bar that serves up dishes of freshly popped popcorn with your drink (around $10). We figured they would be the least soggy snack to eat in a pool, that would float if dropped.
The resort is in the rain forest region, so it can get cloudy and difficult to see the volcano all the time. We experienced some rain every day around 3 pm when we visited in March, but nothing torrential or lasting too long. Expect around a four hour drive from Liberia International Airport with pit stops. Read a few of our previous posts for tips on what to expect from renting a car and driving to Arenal Volcano.
Looking outside from the Volcano View Room. If you can spring a little extra for the view - do it. You'll wake-up every morning to howling monkeys, tropical birds, a lush rain forest and a smoking active volcano. Makes for a relaxing and interesting breakfast. You absolutely can't miss Tabacon when you visit Costa Rica. You'll be pinching yourself the whole time.
Tabacon Resort and Spa, Costa Rica 

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