The setting is a rainforest so lush and tropical that you feel like you are in the Garden of Eden. Yet it is the real deal. Flowers, colors, the sounds of birds, mysterious mist rising out of hot steaming pools of volcanic water. And above this landscape of luxury, sits the source of it all, Arenal, peaking out above the clouds. Majestic and powerful. An active volcano luring the spirits of world-wide travel seekers “home.”
This is Costa Rica’s jewel. Tabacon. A word that means so much to so many. It is a magical place. A mystical place. Truly a destination in itself. The management here appreciates and understands its beauty and has “built the thermal resort and grand spa into nature – rather then bringing nature into it.” It is at one.
Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort has echoed in my dreams for years. Luring me. Inviting. Enticing. Compelling. Calling. Beckoning. My brother and his wife frequented Tabacon as their favorite destination for the past decade while a business colleague was married here five years ago. I saw the pictures. Sold. The Tabacon website says “Paradise on Earth” for a reason. It feels like heaven.
Here is where it all happens. Where dreams really do come true. Marriages, engagements, honeymoons, anniversaries, couples’ getaways, celebrity romantic retreats, birthday celebrations, family vacations (mostly by former honeymooners), and possibly even babymoons - that one last trip before…!! Tabacon is a destination in itself.
And then there is me. I went to Tabacon and stayed in the Honeymoon Suite overlooking the grandest of the grand volcanoes – Arenal - with exotic coatis (raccoon-like animals indigenous to the region and South America) outside my sliding glass doors and the view of a lifetime. It was divine. My suite had all the amenities imaginable including a Jacuzzi tube that fills with naturally volcanic-heated water and fruit platters left on my bar area daily. Not to mention, this spacious room had the most inspiring, nurturing interior design that featured a nature theme with hand-made wood sculpted light fixtures. And this is where I experienced what I profess is the new must for all – a solo honeymoon!
Yes – a solo honeymoon means I got to stay in this incredible room…by myself! Loved it. Every minute of it. Or more accurately every second. Perfection! A must. And now I am on a mission. There is no turning back.
My newfound belief is that everyone (including you) deserves a solo honeymoon at least once in her/his life at Tabacon. Where else?!
Tabacon opened in 1993 and literally started tourism in the Arenal / Fortuna region with the initial establishment of the spa and restaurant. Currently celebrating twenty years of “holistic desire,” Tabacon is all about opportunities to connect with nature. Whether through the resort rooms, the spa, the restaurants, and those famous thermal mineral pools. It is a family-run business with Costa Rican roots. Its lure reads like a fairy tale. But true.
Once upon a time, the Arenal locale was isolated and difficult to get to. In the heart of Costa Rica, the area was renowned for cow pastures. Local herds were thriving. Everyone was happy. Yet one landowner had a big problem. The water on his property was not drinkable. It was too hot, with minerals, and no cows (or anyone for that matter) could quench their thirst there. He could not even farm it. The owner was distraught with his “bad” luck and had to “borrow” drinkable water to barely survive. He wanted more then anything to sell this seemingly useless land and start fresh where there was “real water.” Then one day, in walks an outsider. He was passing through when he chanced upon this “undesirable” land for sale. Luckily for the world, he was a visionary designer and architect. The tale goes that when he saw the three rivers of heated water flowing over the jungle terrain, an immediate image of beauty and wonder flashed into his mind. He had found his destiny. Tabacon. Sold. Seven years later, the location flourished into what is now the premiere tourist destination in Costa Rica. And one of the top resorts of the entire world.
Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort is luxury in the middle of the rainforest and a 5-star proud member of the Leading Hotels of the World (since 2006). Currently celebrating its 20th Anniversary, it customizes experiences for each guest.
Its philosophy is to give back to the community and Tabacon is the main employer in the region. It supports local schools and is involved in the La Fortuna development where everyone is treated like a big family. It is also a “carbon neutral resort” that has instituted a green recyclable program as well as a sustainability program that offers guests the opportunity to plant a tree with the idea they can come back and see the results on a return trip. Even Will Smith participated on his recent visit.
Speaking of green and nature, the hot springs is what Tabacon is world-renowned for, giving people a pan-ultimate nature experience. Twenty different pools of varying temperatures and locations are discreetly scattered throughout the lush landscaped grounds. All natural. The higher up you go, the hotter the temperatures, as the volcano that heats the water. There is also a natural process of cooling the water to get the different options. Guiding the natural river water into the different volcanic pools is an art. It is all about the flow. The movement. And Tabacon knows how to make its water dance.
At the very top of the Tabacon hot springs, there is the newly opened Shangri-La area for adults only. A beautiful and quiet oasis. Perfect for meditation. My favorite. Did I mention there are day passes to the Tabacon thermal resort? Packages include meals, spa treatments and use of the hot springs on a daily basis. This is an affordable option for all visitors to the area.
Tabacon Grand Spa is also on the premises of the hot springs. This five-star full service spa features open air bungalows where you can go for massages, body treatments, facials, bath therapies, waxing and mani-pedis. It is heaven. I am featuring the Tabacon Grand Spa in a separate Splash article in the Health & Beauty section so stay tuned.
And now for the food glorious food. Get ready for a treat. This Costa-Rican cuisine melts in your mouth. Los Tucanes at the hotel section of the resort features a scrumptious not-to-be-missed breakfast buffet as well as fine dining for dinner, while Ave del Paraiso at the hot springs features themed nightly buffets. There is also the once-in-a-lifetime option of reserving private gala dinners in a bungalow in the middle of the rainforest where anything goes. You dream it, you name it, they make it come true. Whether it is fireworks or letting a group of butterflies go at the start of your meal, your wish will come true. I am featuring Tabacon’s restaurants in a separate Splash article in the Food & Beverage section so stay tuned.
All 102 rooms in the hotel have privileged views. Remodeling in 2011 created new suites, in addition to the new Shangri-La Gardens at the thermal resort. Stunning.
I have my eye on the Rainforest Suite for my next visit. Yes - I will be back…maybe even for my “real” honeymoon one day!
Visit Tabacon’s website at www.tabacon.com
Read more about Tabacon’s green programs and sustainable tourism - click here.
Read about Tabacon’s different hotel room and suite options - click here.
Photos and Feature by Jodi Kaplan copyright 2013