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Aloft launches its second Latin American hotel this month with the opening of Aloft San Jose in Escazú, close to the Juan Santamaria airport. Though Aloft Bogota opened last year, this is the company's first location in Costa Rica. The budget, easy-in-easy-out appeal of Aloft must have outweighed its flashier big sister, W when it came time for Starwood to decide which brand to introduce.
A quick TripAdvisor search reveals that until now, Escazú has boasted little in the way of hotels. While Real InterContinental Costa Rica and Marriott San Jose are both viable options (and also both boast killer spa servies) $149/night rates will make Aloft very attractive to cost-conscious travelers.
And all the usual Aloft trimmings (w xyz bar, re:fuel snack station) are here. The website is also showing photos of a "backyard" space with tables and chairs—since we know how much Aloft loves its social butterfly guests...
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Less than an hour's drive from the little Liberia Airport near Costa Rica's west coast sits the exotic oasis of the Peninsula Papagayo. It is an exclusive area, mostly dedicated to upscale resorts, vacation condos and the pristine beaches they face. Alas, there's also an Arnold Palmer golf course in the middle of the action, owned and operated by the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica.
What this means is the area is extraordinarily lush; just a drive down the hill to the entrance of the resort yielded us surprise spottings of white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, a family of Coatis (omg baby Coatis!), and an iguana here and there. Once you've entered the lobby and checked in, however, the Four Seasons is a definite playground for more than just its natural environment.
You know how it is with vacation photos. Sometimes you forget to turn off the flash and that expensive five-star hotel room of yours ends up looking cheap in the harsh lighting. Or the pool water isn't the blue of your dreams or a topless sunbather ruins the background of your beachy family photo. Regardless, everybody retouches vacation photos a little here and thereit's got to look great for Flickr, right?
Well, we found one hotel where retouching is not needed, where the waters of the pool, the beach and the bay are that blue that sews jealousy into the hearts of your Facebook friends. We're speaking of the Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. We've just returned from a weekend there and, upon flipping through our shots of the place, realized that they needed nothing more than a crop or two.
We learned something yesterday while in the sky somewhere above Nicaragua. It's something shocking, but in a very positive way and it absolutely effects hotels. You see, Costa Rica is known for being green and expertly riding the wave of eco-tourism, but they're so serious about their commitment to the environment, that they're on track to become a completely carbon-neutral country by 2012. That's next year...like less than two months away.
Due to their extreme dedication to preserving Pura Vida, Costa Rican hotels are held to high standards of eco-friendliness. We're talking programs that go above and beyond those "do you or don't you want your sheets changed to save water" things, though there's that too. For example, at the Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo (say that three times fast), every guestroom is equipped with a super trashcana single unit with three clear and separate areas for Paper, Plastic and Organic garbage.
DoubleTree has made their baked-fresh-daily walnut chocolate chip cookies an important part of the operation. So important, that the brand decided to embark on a Cookie CARE-a-van tour this summer, spreading joy (and sugar highs) all over the country.
But, as it turns out, people want more. What else is new? According to a rep for the hotel, Doubletree regularly fields requests from guests all over the world to experiment with different variations of the recipe. Add coconut in Costa Rica (DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Puntarenas shown above). Add more nuts in Siberia. But what the kitchen wants those people to know is: it ain't happening!
The other week, we dropped in some killer views from Las Vegas. This week, our own Eloise, Josh Flagg drops in one of his favorite killer views from, where else?, a Four Seasons hotel. This time he left the wilds of Beverly Hills and roughed it in Costa Rica. But you know, not too rough.
Now maybe I am overly fascinated by this, but at my recent stay in the Four Seasons Costa Rica, two things caught my attention. The first was that every floor had a washing and drying machine for hotel guests. Instead of waiting all day to have the hotel do your laundry for you (at $80 for a pair of underwear, mind you), you can walk to steps down the hall and just throw your things in the washing machine.
I have never seen this before in a luxury hotel and I must say, I loved being able to throw my socks and underwear in and have them clean before dinner.
The second thing I loved about this Four Seasons was that I could sleep on my terrace or shall I say, my outdoor room.
As we mentioned the other day, our own celebrity hotel hopper Josh Flagg has just returned from a wild adventure in Costa Rica where he found a barf bag on the nightstand in his hotel suite.
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Gay couples across the state of New York married for the first time on Monday—an event so huge, Niagra Falls suddenly became rainbow-colored! Now that ceremonies can legally take place, hotel geeks around the state will be seeking out the best venues for their ceremonies, honeymoons, and receptions. Here are five of our top picks:
For a tropical escape—How about some breakfast in bed? It's all included in the "Love And Equality" package at Costa Rica's 125-acre Monte Azul Boutique Hotel. All couples, gay or straight, who were married after January 1, 2011, are entitled to four nights for the price of three ($570 plus tax) in one of the hotel's signature casitas. Rooms come with a chef's welcome platter, free wifi and a personal garden.
If you reality TV addicts who are glued to NBC's new dating show Love in the Wild are wondering which romantic-looking abode the winning couples shack up in after an action-packed episode, it's the Nayara Hotel and Gardens.
The adventure-based dating series was filmed last spring at the Costa Rica hotel. In each episode, couples go head-to-head in various adventures; the winning twosome gets to spend the night together in the let's-get-it-on "Oasis." However, the "Oasis" is actually a Nayara Suite at the hotel.
All-inclusive resorts aren't our jam but it is interesting to hear that Starwood Hotels has just opened their very first all-inclusive resort--The Westin Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal in Costa Rica, formerly known as the Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort.
Here's a brief description of the property:
Centered around an expansive, lagoon-style pool, The Westin Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal is adjacent to the championship Robert Trent Jones II golf facility and is easily accessible from the international airport in Liberia, Guanacaste. Inspiring wellness with its signature Westin The Spa, the resort features beautiful gardens, luxurious suites, thatch-roofed bungalows, as well as breathtaking vistas. Guests will enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation and nightly entertainment and several restaurants serving both local and international cuisine.
Sounds nice, right? But this all-inclusive paradise will cost you.
If you thought you had a crappy Christmas, you don't have anything on guests at Costa Rica's Barcelo Tambor Beach. The hotel had to close after a nasty diarrhea outbreak last week.
The health ministry shut it down after 150 people reportedly sought treatment late last week at a local clinic after suffering from such symptoms as nausea, cramps and vomiting, though the hotel only reported 37 cases of the runs.
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But what we really want to know is where are they holding these fake negotiations about their sex tapes? TMZ is reporting that the fame-seeking duo are happily vacationing at a resort in Costa Rica while publicly acting like there's a divorce war on with sex tapes at the center of the battle. The report doesn't mention where Heidi and Spencer are vacationing and when we actually tried to watch the TMZ video for clues (we know, gag), it crashed our browser.