For me, when I know I need to get away from the world and take some time out to relax and contemplate, I’d much rather be doing it in beautiful, sunny surroundings. El Alma Private Villa & Soul Retreat is a tropical hideaway in Costa Rica (and part of Small Luxury Hotels) which does exactly that. Aside from yoga, meditation and massage treatments available at the villa, there is much to do and see in Costa Rica itself; pristine beaches, vast protected jungle with unbelievable wildlife, waterfalls and volcanos are all waiting to be explored. British Airways flies direct from London Gatwick to San Jose in 11 hours and 40 minutes and then the villa is a 4-hour transfer by car or a short flight away. Alternatively, if you take a connecting flight from London to Liberia, the other airport in Costa Rica (with an approximately 15 hour, 30-minute flight time), the villa is then just 35 minutes away.
El Alma Private Villa & Soul Retreat is designed to ensure its guests have the time and space to find calm, inner peace and to care for your soul. The villa is set in a tropical paradise within the lush green hills of the Papagayo Península with views of the Playa Prieta on the north Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Perfect for small groups, there are 3 spacious and exquisitely designed bedrooms, a living room and an open plan kitchen with a large terrace attached. The gardens are a huge part of the experience here and you will find yourself spending a lot of time outside; there is a pool, Jacuzzi and pool decks with a hanging day bed, plus a patio with a pergola and a beautiful rancho. The views from the garden over the Pacific are take-your-breath-away fabulous and the garden really is the ideal place to relax and disconnect. It is also possible to rent just a single guest room in the villa, each has a degree of privacy with its own large terrace, but this is a nice way to mix with others and bond in communal areas too. As part of the experience there are no televisions, and to be honest with this scenery you really won’t miss them, you can use the wireless LAN should you feel the need to stay connected but if possible just switch off and submerge yourself in the environment totally. The owners offer an incredible service and the attention to detail is evident throughout.
If you get the choice (top tip: get there before the rest of your group and take your pick!) the master bedroom, the Mandala Suite is simply gorgeous; 1200sqft with a huge four-poster king-size bed, surround-sound-system, desk, ceiling fan, ensuite bathroom and a large private terrace with those breath-taking views. The other two rooms, the Garden Room and the Treetop Room are both 800sqft and are also beautiful rooms with very similar facilities.
Restaurants & Bars
Breakfast is an additional charge but one that we would definitely recommend that you take, the butler service is also worth considering as it really makes your stay more special and gives you more time to focus on you, with less time spent on those daily irritations. Just a short distance from the villa are 7 restaurants (including a Four Seasons hotel just down the road), your hosts can give you recommendations or catering can be arranged at the villa. The nearby Prieta Beach Club is also the perfect spot for a romantic meal on the beach.
At the villa itself, yoga, meditation and a relaxing massage in your private suite are an ideal way to pass the time. If you are interested in golf, the Arnold Palmer golf course is just next door. With the rest of your days here, there is little to limit your exploration: dive at the nearby scuba dive base, take an excursion with a fascinating native tour guide, hike the rainforests, go white-water rafting, kayaking, learn to surf and if it all gets too much, the Prieta Beach Club is a short stroll down the hill where you can relax on the white sands.
The owners run specific retreats where you can really focus on your chosen discipline and receive expert help and support, as well as meals included; current retreats that are available include yoga, tango and coaching.
Perfectly proving the “small is good” philosophy; El Alma is the place to go to unwind and refresh, as well as being very well placed to explore the paradise of Costa Rica.
Disclosure: Most reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.