For my first wedding anniversary, I wanted to escape with my partner to some place special; we found our oasis at The Springs in Arenal, Costa Rica
Having once had the opportunity to stay at the Peace Lodge at La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Vera Blanca, Costa Rica, I’d long had the desire to experience its sister resort, The Springs in Arenal. With my first wedding anniversary coming up, I decided the occasion warranted an extra special getaway, which meant the time had come to make it happen.
After receiving a confirmation email containing information about the resort, the spa, its activities, restaurants, and amenities, I emailed the concierge to schedule a couple’s massage for our first afternoon there; for me, there’s no better way to get into vacation mode than a relaxing massage in a peaceful resort spa.
Likewise, I was sure to make a reservation for our special anniversary dinner at Las Ventanas Restaurant, a treat we were very much looking forward to; as consummate foodies, we don’t consider any vacation a “real vacation” without the experience of remarkable food and wine.
On the day of our long-anticipated weekend escape to The Springs, we packed up the car and headed for the La Fortuna area, where the Arenal Volcano reigns majestically over the valley, streams, hot springs, rivers, and Lake Arenal. Our journey through the countryside was, as always, a pleasure; the rolling hills, rich rainforests, farms, and villages passing by in that serene green, and luscious splendor, that is, so much, Costa Rica.
Arriving at The Springs in the early afternoon, we were greeted by a friendly staff member at the front gate, who took our name, and directed us to reception. There, a bellman collected our luggage, and parked our car while we checked in.
Daniel, at reception, surprised us with a congratulatory mention of our anniversary (that Concierge is on his toes!). To our delight, he upgraded us to a honeymoon suite, after first asking if we didn’t mind being in the Aracari building, which is about 150 meters away, via covered walkway. Joking around with him about the “burden” of the “distance” we assured him that we didn’t mind and were, in fact, thrilled.
Sipping the refreshing carambola juice we’d been given, we were introduced to another awesome staff member who would tell us a little more about the resort, and explain about the shuttle bus that ferries guests up and down from Club Rio, the resort’s outdoor center, and wildlife preserve. Then, he drove us by golf cart with our bags over to our room, pointing out the bus stop, and telling us of other amenities along the way.
Upon entering our room, we immediately decided we’d be ordering room service to have dinner on our private terrace that evening.
I’ve got to be honest here; words almost fail me when it comes to describing our delight in our digs for the weekend. We were just captivated by the gorgeous, spacious, well-equipped suite that we’d been upgraded to.
Characteristic of the attention to detail we’d come to expect from a Lee Banks property, after our experience at Peace Lodge, our room was resplendent with fresh flowers, a bottle of wine with a congratulatory “Happy Anniversary!” note from Mr. Banks and Staff, and a wide selection of premium wines, spirits, snacks, coffee, water, and soft drinks in the mini-bar.
From the smart TV to the DVD player, big Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom, and separate, marble shower, double vanity, and privacy-toilet, to the environmentally friendly, paraben free, bath products, there was little, if anything, left to be desired in this lovely room.
Still more inviting, though, was the massive Jacuzzi tub on the well-furnished terrace, lushly surrounded for seclusion by tropical garden plants, and, too, graced with impressive views of the volcano looming high above. With a large hammock, dining table for two, and a pair of rocking chairs, the covered terrace quickly became our favorite place to dine, hang out, and just “be” while in our room at The Springs.
Happily, we put our things away, turned on some music, enjoyed a glass of wine, and had a Jacuzzi bath on the terrace, before heading over to the spa for our 5 o’clock couple’s massage.
Upon arrival at The Sanctuary Spa & Fitness Center, we were greeted by the spa receptionist who had us fill out a quick form. She then showed us to the locker room where we could change into robes, and the lounge where we could await our appointment with fresh juice, water, or tea, and enjoy the view.
Our massages were excellent, and to complete the experience our therapists opened the massive bay window so that we could “wake up” to the sound of the pouring rain and flashes of lightning outside. Once dressed in our robes, we were shown to the lounge again and served a passion fruit mousse with hot ginger tea. Finally, we were invited to stay and enjoy the steam room, sauna, gym, and lounge areas of the spa.
Feeling truly relaxed, we reluctantly dressed and made our way back to our room. There, we lit some candles, turned on some music, and ordered a light dinner to be served in the privacy of our beautiful terrace. Listening to the rain, and enjoying a bottle of wine along with our scrumptious dinner, we had an incredibly romantic first night at The Springs.
We slept in late the following morning (an easy feat with the perfect, floor-to-ceiling blackout curtains our room was sporting). Finally, though, we rose and got ready to go to breakfast at Tres Cascadas; tempted to stay in again, we joked that if we didn’t get out for breakfast, we might not leave the luxury of our room the entire weekend!
With so much to choose from, this may be one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve ever experienced. Halfway through our meal, we looked at each other and said, “we can probably just skip lunch!” Rich Costa Rican coffee, fresh fruit juice and fruit, bagels, and all that you’d need for the perfect bagels-n-lox combination, omelets and eggs made to order, typical Costa Rican breakfast side dishes such as gallo pinto, picadillo, potatoes, and more, yogurts, cheeses, meats, breads, cereals, waffles, and pancakes… wow, we could have stayed there in our little breakfast nook under the shade, watching the clouds drift past the volcano, and eating, non-stop, for hours.
Instead, though, we finally got up from our breakfast bonanza close to noon, and headed downstairs, past the spacious game room with its billiards, dart boards, and chess tables, to the Laguna Bar, where we pulled up a couple of chairs in the cool water swim-up, and enjoyed late morning mimosas.
Topping off the morning with some time spent in the hot springs, and exploring the grounds along with the Perdido Springs falls, hot springs, grottos, and pools (with the added fun of a few trips down the monkey slide!), we finally headed back to the spacious comfort of our room for a little reading, the sound of the rain, and a light afternoon nap.
Around four o’clock, we asked room service to bring us a fruit and cheese plate, champagne bucket, and flutes; we’d brought a special bottle of champagne left from our wedding last year, and we enjoyed it as we watched the misty volcano and sunset, and toasted our first year of marriage.
At last, it was time to get ready for our eagerly anticipated dinner at Las Ventanas. Bringing along the bottle of wine that the hotel had gifted us, we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner of steak and salmon. With breathtaking views, light music, and candlelight, the ambience of Las Ventanas couldn’t be more romantic. What made the evening extra special, though, was the surprise anniversary desert the chef prepared; a tri-berry flan with a dark chocolate shell, our server pouring hot caramel over the top, melting the shell to reveal the flan inside. It was, quite simply, divine.
An after-dinner stroll through the grounds, past romantically lit grottos, waterfalls, hot springs, and gardens, mist rising into the dark, and very few other guests in sight, was the perfect ending to a perfect dinner. Ordering a digestive at the bar, and taking it along, we slowly made our way back to the sanctuary of our room, and spent the rest of the evening in the seclusion of our terrace hot tub, watching a light rain come down, talking, and laughing late into the night.
On our final morning, we rose around eight and ordered a light continental breakfast from room service. We wanted to check out Club Rio and all its offerings before heading back to San Jose. We dawdled in our beautiful room for as long as we dared, then loading up the car, we went and checked out. Daniel, as friendly and helpful as always, asked us how our weekend went and if we’d enjoyed our anniversary. “Yes!” We said, “We’ll be back.”
Waiting at the bus station, it was fun to see the yellow school bus come along the road to pick us up, everyone joking around about school days gone by. The trip lent quick understanding to the need for a bus; though not far, at just a mile, the road down (and back up!) is very steep, and winding, as it makes its way through the forest to the Club area at the river.
What fun! We wish we’d had more time. With offerings such as a rock wall, a wildlife sanctuary, kayaking, river tubing, swimming, horseback riding, and fishing, we could have easily stayed there all day. Given the little time we had, however, we made do with hanging out at the Rancho Club Rio, talking with some other guests about their Costa Rica travels, and enjoying some delicious, frozen (the “virgin” kind; we had to get on the road!) cocktails.
On our way home, we reminisced about the beautifully romantic weekend we’d just experienced. We hope to return to The Springs again one day; we feel certain we could easily fill a few more days with romance, fun, and adventure.