Jews believe that the Garden of Eden was in Mesopotamia and Mormons hold that it’s in Missouri, but going on looks alone, a solid case could be made for the Tabacon Grand Spa in Costa Rica. Rushing streams, green foliage and a soaring volcano make for one of the most paradisaical spots on earth. The hot springs themselves are channeled through waterfalls, gardens and secluded pools where guests can soak away the stress of life or a long day traveling. Tabacon was the first complex to take advantage of the natural hot springs heated at the base of the Arenal volcano, and is still the most acclaimed.
The hotel offers a variety of room and suite sizes at different price points – starting at a superior room with a garden view and going all the way up to a honeymoon suite with a volcano view and a “Shambhala Senator Suite” with over 2,500 square feet of space. While the larger suites are lovely, the real focus here is on the hot springs and the time guests spend outdoors. We suggest booking the base room and spending long days in the hot springs. All rooms include entrance to the spa (a $60 per day per person value).
Tabacon’s Grand Spa provides specialized spa treatments performed by master therapists. Treatments are done in open-air bungalows where guests can hear, see and feel the tropical forest surrounding them. While the spa is often named as one of the world’s best eco-spas, we find that the hot springs themselves are so relaxing that a massage seems superfluous.
The rooms don’t open directly into the hot springs, but it’s a short walk or shuttle ride from the hotel. There is a large pool and excellent gym at the hotel itself.
Many hot springs resorts drill deep in the ground for water and then reheat or recirculate the water to ensure a warm, continuous supply. The hot springs at Tabacon however, are totally natural. The water is warmed by the smoldering volcano and flows naturally through a series of pools. The volcano-heated, gravity-fed hot springs don’t require pumps or heating units and help the resort to be an eco-friendy, carbon-neutral destination.
Plan on at least a three hour drive from Liberia or San Jose. Costa Rica is sometimes called the Switzerland of Central America. But unlike Switzerland, which has the most perfectly maintained transit system in the Western world, Costa Rican roads are a mess of potholes when you’re lucky and dirt roads when you’re not. Tabacon can be reached by a two-wheel drive rental car, but bring a GPS or map and expect the drive to be tiring.
And here’s a tip on value: food is pricey at Tabacon. If you’re not up for spending $30 on pasta and a beer, grab a phone book and order delivery from one of the local restaurants.
- Address: Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
- Rooms: 102
- On site: Restaurants: Avenue del Paraiso (international) Los Tucanes (international). Bars: Arenal Wet Bar, Caña Brava Lobby Bar. Fitness: spa, swimming pool.
- Reservations: 1-877-277-8291
- Price: $$$
All images courtesy of Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort.
MORE FROM THE LOBBY