Perched among the treetops in a rainforest under Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano is Nayara Springs in La Fortuna. As soon as I pulled up to the hotel, my host walked me into the two-story lobby, handed me a refreshing beverage and offered me a seat so that we could begin the check-in process.
My expectations for my hosted stay at Nayara Springs were high, to say the least. Travel + Leisure and TripAdvisor have listed it among the top hotels in the world, and its spa has received similar accolades. Within minutes it's apparent why the hotel is continually recognized as a top destination, and after a few days, the idea of leaving Nayara Springs was heartbreaking.
Each of its 35 thatched-roof villas, adorned in vibrant colors evocative of its locale, also feature a private plunge pool fed by a mineral hot springs, the perfect remedy for my sore muscles after a day of horseback riding and hiking at Arenal before my arrival.
Amenities include laundry service (particularly welcome after a morning spent horseback riding and hiking), twice-daily housekeeping and resortwide WiFi.
After completing check-in, I immediately plunged into my private pool. On the terrace enclosed by luscious landscaping were a daybed, a table and chairs and a hammock.
The next morning I headed to the property's octagonal pavilion, where yoga is offered daily. From every corner of the wooden masterwork are views of nature and treetops.
Following yoga was a 100-minute Signature Nayara treatment ($160) in the open-air spa. Before the treatment begins, a choice of three essential oils is offered: geranium, lemon or rosemary. That is followed by a foot soak, scrub and massage. Next, muscles are stretched, and a volcanic mask is applied to legs, back, arms, shoulders and stomach.
Then hot towels are applied, and the facial portion began.
Each treatment room is equipped with an outdoor shower, where after the facial, the volcanic mask is rinsed from the body and face. Then it's back onto the massage table for the encore: The therapist rubs the entire body with a cream made of geranium and rose. The end result: My skin never felt softer.
Once the treatment was complete, I was offered pineapple juice with mint and honey (sparkling wine was also an option).
Other available treatments include a variety of massages, including Swedish, Thai and deep-tissue; an 80-minute, hot-stone treatment using volcanic stones strategically placed to soothe tight muscles; and several couples treatments, including the two-hour Nature Escape, featuring time in a rose-petal-infused whirlpool spa overlooking the rainforest.
Nayara Springs shares its spa with its sister property, the Nayara Resort, Spa & Gardens, which it adjoins via a footbridge. Unlike Nayara Springs, the 50-room Nayara Resort, Spa & Gardens, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is family-friendly.
As one might expect from the property's rainforest setting, Nayara Springs and its sister property are home to various wildlife, including more than 15 sloths. As a haven for these furry creatures, the two resorts' recently opened sloth sanctuary includes 300 newly planted cecropia trees, which are sloths' main source of food. Like the sloths, I wanted to set roots here.
In November, Nayara Springs became part of the Relais & Chateaux collection. Rates start at $850 per night for a Springs Villa; see www.nayarasprings.com.