The term “eco-tourism” usually conjures up images of sleeping in tents, dodging swarms of mosquitos, and hauling your refuse along with you to preserve the natural balance of things and “leave no footprints.” But what if I told you there is now a unique tropical paradise where you can experience the ultimate in luxury accommodations in a pristine environment that is not only environmentally sustainable, but is actually improving the local natural environment?
Reserva Conchal in Guanacaste, Costa Rica is the first of its kind; a mixed use residential and vacation resort community wholly focused on environmental sustainability. Anchored by two beautiful hotel properties (The Westin Golf Resort and Spa and the soon-to-be-open W Hotel), the community boasts accommodations ranging from private luxury condominiums to palatial villas and everything in between. From the Robert Trent Jones designed golf course to the beautiful Beach Club (complete with white sand beaches), to the 700-acre wildlife refuge and rain forest, Reserva Conchal offers its residents and guests all the above in an environment-friendly package.
The master plan for the community, developed by Costa Rican based Florida Ice & Farm Company, was forged with a strong sense of caring for the surrounding natural and cultural landscape, incorporating natural elements in harmony with Guanacaste’s flora, fauna, climate and terrain. The community has received numerous accolades for its conservation and sustainability efforts including the coveted Ecological Blue Flag designation and a 5-Leaf Tourism Sustainability Certification. The Westin Golf Resort and Spa has become Latin America’s first Carbon Positive all-inclusive hotel and golf course, not only compensating for its carbon emissions to reach carbon neutrality but also increasing its offset to be 25% Carbon Positive.
But the dedication to the local community and culture doesn’t simply stop with environmental sustainability. The developers are committed to providing career opportunities to locals through several mentoring programs. Young enlistees are trained in various hospitality roles and approximately 55% of them remain on property to develop their careers with Reserva Conchal. The remainder typically work at nearby hotels and resorts. In an area with limited economic prospects for young people, Reserva Conchal plays a vital role in the community.
In terms of accommodations, Reserva Conchal appeals to travelers of all types. For those seeking a week or two in a tropical environment, the Westin and the W Hotel (opening November 2018) offer visitors an all-inclusive way to experience Costa Rica. Both properties were built to blend in with the natural landscape and culture and offer a multitude of excellent dining options. For those seeking a more permanent footprint, Reserva Conchal’s carefully designed master plan includes a series of developments catering to a range of lifestyles. The condominiums range from modest 2-bedroom units with golf course views to luxurious sixth floor units with sweeping ocean vistas. There are also townhouse units (currently under construction) which offer families a bit more room to settle in for longer stays. Finally, the villa communities offer those seeking to rewrite their life story a variety of beautifully appointed home designs with all the modern accoutrements. Prices range from the $300,000’s to over $3 million.
The centerpiece of Reserva Conchal is undoubtedly the Beach Club. Offering an open-air restaurant and poolside dining, the Beach Club is a casual and tranquil place to just lounge by the pool or kayak on the beach just a few steps away. The executive chef prepares freshly caught seafood daily for residents and their guests, and the menu is well stocked with continental choices as well as local favorites. The Beach Club also offers a wonderfully well-appointed spa and fitness center adjacent to the pool area.
Whether you are contemplating a vacation or looking for a second home, the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica offers a rich variety of pursuits. The golf course caters to players of all skill levels via multiple tee boxes, and works its way through a natural valley, presenting the golfer with elevation changes and broad vistas of the ocean and wildlife preserve. Howler monkeys and iguanas are a common audience for your next shot. A two-kilometer hiking trail winds through the wildlife refuge, and local conservationists are happy to provide guided tours. For more adventurous types, there is zip lining through the rain forest or surf lessons in the nearby village of Tamarindo. Other waterborne pursuits include deep-sea fishing for tuna and marlin and snorkel trips to multiple nearby reef formations.
The Guanacaste province is in northwestern Costa Rica. The provincial capital, Liberia, boasts an international airport and receives multiple flights daily from most major airports. Reserva Conchal is approximately one hour from Liberia by car or shuttle.