It may sound trite to write that a location is magical—but this one is.
Situated amidst a rainforest at the base of a 50-acre crystal-quartz mountain outside the colorful town of Atenas, Alajuela, The Retreat Costa Rica offers vast and painterly views of the renowned Nicoya Peninsula, the Pacific Ocean, and the lush Costa Rican rainforest valley. (The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the world’s five longevity Blue Zones, and the retreat is in the process of becoming Blue-Zone certified.)
The Retreat Costa Rica was dreamt up by founder Diana Stobo, a celebrity chef, author, and health and wellness life coach, and lovingly given form around a former private villa by her partner, Enrique Herrera, who grew up on a ranch in the Costa Rican jungle and seems to know the attributes of every plant on the property. The Retreat Costa Rica is an ideal getaway for solo travelers looking to decompress, deepen a yoga practice, eat super clean, and take home some seriously good self-care rituals.
The property is a boutique hotel, yoga retreat, and world-class healing center rolled into one incredible package—with a dream-team staff and farm-to-table cuisine that most retreats can only aspire to. The Boca Dulce restaurant features a terrace that overlooks the organic garden. Menus are based on an anti-inflammatory diet and are lovingly crafted from organic produce that is mostly grown in The Retreat’s rich soil.
With 19 guest rooms, including six sustainable lofts that were added this past January, The Retreat is home to the Vida Mia Healing Center and Spa, the first Ayurvedic healing center in Costa Rica. Dr. Vinod Balakrishnan, a naturopath, acupuncturist, and Ayurvedic doctor, oversees the wellness center and is a man who truly walks his talk. Each day at dawn he wakes up to do 300 sun salutations—before he leaves his home and hikes the steep mountain to The Retreat.
Vida Mia is spread out over two floors with lots of open-air space, a meditation deck, and the Gratitude Lounge Cafe, which offers a plant-based menu and a well-curated assortment of organic and biodynamic wines. The view—and even the placement of the building and the pools—is reminiscent of the magically suspended gardens in the movie Avatar: You feel as if you’re literally hanging out in the jungle.
Those mesmerizing mountain and sea views are evident from each of the seven light-filled treatment rooms. The healing center is also home to a warm quiet pool for Watsu (one of two saline pools), a cold plunge in the form of an ice-cold water cascade, a nicely situated hot tub, and in a truly creative twist, two water swings, where you can swing to your heart’s content above the Watsu pool and out towards the horizon where the mountains meet the sea.
A true respite for the retreatgoer, The Retreat Costa Rica offers a number of excellent five-night getaways for whatever draws your spirit. For example, the Art of Resting is geared to those coping with burnout; it was created during COVID to help guests deal with the uncertainty and anxiety that our new reality brings. Pranayama sessions with Dr. Balakrishnan, sound healing, cranial-sacral massage, and more are on the itinerary. There’s also an Emotional Healing Retreat designed to “help you find your way back to you” by opening your heart energies, reintroducing you to bioavailable nutrition, and giving you the tools you need to help you remove the obstacles of negative thinking. If you’ve never experienced Ayurveda and are curious, this is the perfect place to do so. The highly customized Ayurvedic Medical Spa Retreat is a great way to get your feet wet.
All in all, Stobo and Herrera have managed to create a true retreat in every sense of the word. Once you step foot on the property, you won’t want to leave.