On the other side of this 180 acre property, the residents in the foothills of Costa Rica’s Talamanca Mountains live in a Blue Zone, one of the designated areas of the world in which due to a variety of lifestyle elements, people live longer, healthier lives. Hacienda AltaGracia, Auberge Resorts Collection, which opened last week, can’t guarantee this to their guests but as a deliberately constructed holistic, wellness resort which borrows some inspiration from its neighbors, it can at least promise that guests will leave with ways to lead healthier lives.
“Hacienda AltaGracia is a place where guests can move fast or slow, explore the destination and their inner selves, and connect with our community while reconnecting with their loved ones,” according to Mark Wright, the resort’s general manager. “Well-being means something different for everyone – for some, it’s a riveting adventure, and for others, it’s meditation – or a combination of both. At AltaGracia, guests will find balance and purpose, ultimately transforming mind, body and soul.”
The disciplines with which to achieve this have been designed by the New York based wellness provider THE WELL blending Eastern and Western philosophies with elements from this region. At the central hydrotherapy facility Casa de Agua, treatments utilizing local muds and oils are activated using heat, water and steam. Other treatments include Hierbas y Flores, a deep massage using freshly picked herbs and flowers, Maderoterapia, a holistic massage technique using wooden tools to balance energy, reduce stress, and improve the flow of the lymphatic system, an herbal river bath on the banks of the Calientillo River and integrative energy healing with a 700 pound crystal.
Other healing techniques go deeper into nature: hiking with a guide to identify wildlife in the surrounding tropical forest including nighttime treks to observe armadillos, brightly colored frogs and ocelots; these explorations can also include stargazing and then a corresponding astrological chart reading. Utilizing Hacienda AltaGracia’s private airstrip, guests can also explore further afield: south to the Osa Peninsula and Isla del Cano National Park to snorkel, dive, fish, and beach hop; spend a day with the Boruca tribe in their native reservation; or visit Tortuguero National Park, where they can paddle traditional canoes upstream to a remote village under the watchful eye of White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys. Other adventure opportunities include surfing trips to Uvita and exploring Guayabo, an ancient lost city, followed by a white-water rafting experience down the sacred Pacuare River. But guests can reap the benefits of being in nature by just looking out at the property and the sweeping views over the San Isidro Valley and its blanket of clouds.
Since what you eat is such an important part in determining health, and is a vital component in the longevity experienced in this region, the culinary program in the resort’s five restaurants is grounded in sustainability and local ingredients while appealing to various tastes. The options range from rustic Latin American dishes with components grown within the country in the main restaurant Grano to meat and seafood cooked over a dried coconut husk-based fire in the dinner barbecue restaurant Cienfuegos. Familiar snacks and coffee from the resort’s coffee farm are also available throughout the day. And for those who want to get involved, experiences such as cattle wrangling, coffee roasting or blending sugarcane distilled liquors with a mixologist can be arranged.
Corresponding to the overall tone of nature based serenity, the 50 one and two bedroom casitas, some with plunge pools, are rustic, composed of weathered wood with fire pits and vine covered pergolas. The interiors, though, are hardly simple: designed by New York designer Nina Gotlieb, they blend materials such as leather, linen, marble and rattan in a refined style that could fit easily in a New York apartment. But out on the terrace, with views of the coffee farm, rainforest and clouds floating over the green valley, it’s obvious that you’re very far away.