Paradise in Guanacaste, Costa Rica: Andaz Papagayo
When I landed in the Liberia International Airport in Costa Rica, a feeling of instant relief engulfed me. I was battling an intense cold prior in NYC during NYFWM — how convenient, am I right? I could easily trace the source of my ailment back to the countless, sleepless nights at the hotels. It was a vicious cycle of early mornings and late nights, culminating into a serious, relentless cough that only abated with lemon ginger and chamomile tea.
Fortunately, the cough subsided, as I awoke to the gleaming sun and pounding ocean waves of Guanacaste, Costa Rica on the airplane. I arrived by my lonesome to an arid airport that was rather modern for its location. Some parts were thoroughly air-conditioned, some were overwhelmed by the stale, humid air. It was all the same to me, because I was just counting my blessings to be on Costa Rican soil, the land of abundant wildlife, fried plantains and charming, hospitable natives. (Although I have to admit, I was foolishly manipulated into taking the wrong cab that resulted in a higher fee of $65 USD for the ride and even tipped the driver an extra $20. Amateur move, so please do your research!).
As I embarked on the 45 minute ride to the Andaz Papagayo resort, I couldn’t help but document every fleeting moment over Snapchat (find me at mybelonging!). Costa Rica is an intensely beautiful Central American country, filled with hidden gems as I come to find out later on this trip. And the Andaz Papagayo became my gateway, my entryway into this lovely slice of paradise.
Upon arrival at the resort, I was immediately given a refreshing pineapple cucumber juice for hydration. It was a welcomed refreshment after my encounter with the humidity, which can feel quite heavy in the afternoon. Then I was whisked away to my room via the on-site shuttle service to my picturesque suite room by one of the resort’s many friendly staff members, who actually double as an insider into the Andaz as well as the local culture. The room is picturesque in itself, with an expansive layout that includes a king size bed, enormous closet space for the heavy packer, and spacious restroom that opens up to a walk-in rain shower with an outdoor balcony attached to it. It was quite possibly one of the more luxurious suites I’ve ever stayed in. The stunning views, early morning light and the playful chirping of birds served as my natural alarm clock every day. Definitely not mad about it.
There’s not one but two infinity pools on the Andaz Papagayo property — one is designed for larger parties/families while the other provides a significantly more intimate experience. Both are spectacular in their own right. It was nice to take a quick dip for some reprieve from the heat or simply relax the body by the poolside cabanas with a refreshing cocktail.
Two seems to be the lucky number at the Andaz Papagayo. There are two private beaches that are only accessible to guests staying at the resort, which means no crowds whatsoever. Closer to central hub of the resort is a beach where you freely rent out kayaks and snorkeling equipment to use recreationally. But it's equally nice to juststare longingly into the ocean and work up a good ol' wallowing session.
The Andaz Papagayo proudly houses three signature restaurants. The Rio Bhongo is the biggest and most popular for its traditional Costa Rican breakfast offerings of fresh fruit, rice and beans, along with a variety of options that cater to a more Westernized palette. Chao Pescao, a personal favorite, is a tapas restaurant with exquisitely prepared cocktails and casual dining ambience — ideal for bigger groups like ours. You seriously can’t go wrong by ordering almost everything on the menu; the small plates are such crowd pleasers. And then there’s Ostra, a more fine-dining, romantic experience with an emphasis on all things seafood. While the ingredients at the restaurant were certainly high-quality, we felt that the execution of the dishes were a bit off the mark. Then again, if all else fails, there’s always room service — there’s no end to fabulous dining options at the Andaz Papagayo.
My outdoor journey began on a 35-minute horse ride through the most scenic meadows around the Boriquen Spa Resort, followed by a life-changing experience. Never in my life would I have ever imagined myself zip lining through 12 canopies at elevation levels that rival the Grand Canyon. It was simultaneously sublime and scary. The entire process took about an hour and a half, in between moments of fear and exhilaration. I was just so thrilled to be standing on two feet afterward, on solid ground, dipping my body into a purifying, volcanic mud bath. Part of the message behind this immersive outdoor excursion is to strongly encourage eco-tourism, a concept that encourages tourists and foreigners alike to advocate the importance of maintaining Costa Rica’s wildlife habitats.
The Native People
One of the more distinct encounters that happened during our trip was our fateful meeting with Jonny Sanchez, who happens to be a local artisan that specializes in crafting unique clay pottery. He comes from generations of artisan potters and continues to hone the craft. It was incredible to witness Jonny’s production process in person. I am even more thankful that I got to purchase a few pieces for keepsakes.
I left Costa Rica with many memories, numerous bug bites and more importantly a newfound appreciation for its natural habitat. All thanks to Andaz Papagayo and its family of personable, generous staff members. Each and everyone of them is trained to be your insider into the unscripted experience at the resort. I thoroughly enjoyed their stories and personal insights into the world of Costa Rica.
As a takeaway to this experience, I've compiled together a lookbook, in collaboration with Daniel Wellington watches, to share a few intimate moments during my time in Costa Rica. In it you'll find a special promo code waiting for you. Feel free to peruse and let me know what you think: