Ylang Ylang Restaurant Blossoms from the Land

January 14, 2005

ON the beach in Montezuma, on thesouthern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in thePuntarenas province, the Iacono familyover the past 25 years has cultivated thenatural green of the land into something asbrilliant as warm, yellow sunshine.Some could liken this transformationof land to that of the tropical ylang-ylangflower, which blossoms from green to yellowat various times throughout the year –just as the land blossoms with the Iaconos’various projects.Patricia Iacono, from Holland, andLenny Iacono, from the United States,have shaped their most recent venture inthe form of a beautiful new restaurant,most appropriately named Ylang Ylang.The restaurant, bar and lounge is now partof the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort, alsoknown as El Sano Banano Beach Hotel(not to be confused with El Sano BananoRestaurant in town).“A humble flower with a beautifulsmell,” is how Patricia describes the YlangYlang. Lenny and Patricia’s transformationof the land reflects their commitment tonature’s true beauty and their awe of theirsurroundings, which have inspired them topreserve and enjoy the gifts the land has tooffer.IN 1980, the Iaconos came toMontezuma seeking the simple life. Forthe first couple of years, they earned anincome by making fruit-leather snacks.Soon, Patricia, a nutritionist and cook,and Lenny, a carpenter by trade, combinedtheir considerable talents to create a healthretreat.It started with Lenny’s vision to constructa cabina, which was built and subsequentlyrented in 1985.Patricia, on the other hand, began tosee a need for more diversity in the foodoffered in town. Back then, Montezumawasn’t the bustling tourist town with multiplefood options it is today; rice andbeans were the standard fare. So, Patriciaand Lenny opened El Sano BananoRestaurant in town on Dec. 3, 1989.At first Patricia offered a simple menu:fruits, mixed salads and soups. Eventuallyher experiment evolved into a majorrestaurant and hotel, the backbone for theirsuccess today.They have achieved this success poco apoco, or, as neighbor José Cuellar says,“one cabina at a time. They did it the hardway.”In keeping with their eco-friendly ideology,the Iaconos are good neighbors.They were the first people to initiate recyclingin the town of Montezuma, and theydonate a portion of the proceeds from thegift shops at the resort and in town to thenearby Karen Mogensen Wildlife Reserve.Patricia feels that she and Lenny weremeant to be in Montezuma, preservingwhat is beautiful, enriching the land and“offering a beautiful experience.”And a beautiful experience it is. TheYlang Ylang Beach Resort offers eightbungalows, three suites and three rooms,all on the beach, in addition to massagesand various classes in reiki and yoga.IN creating Ylang Ylang Restaurant,the Iaconos literally transformed whatwas once their home into an exceptionalrestaurant. Close to the beach yet set apartfrom the crowds, the place has a spiritualambience enhanced by the proximity ofthe nearby ancient Indian burial groundand the Mayan symbols decorating therestaurant.Manager and head chef KaivalyaSannya Sun prepares each dish with careand inspiration. “Pure energy, pure foodand a combination of beliefs” is his philosophy.His many world travels and diversebackground – as the child of a NativeAmerican mother and a French father –may be the reasons he offers such a varietyof dishes, all innovative creations thatbring an artistic element to the table.Tantalizing items on the menu includevegetarian and seafood dishes – the Thaiteriyaki tuna steak is outstanding.Kaivalya’s sauces add an exotic flavor toall entrées, including the pasta dishes.Even the unique flavor of the vegetables,cooked to perfection, excites the tastebuds.Tasty lighter fare includes tapenade, arefreshing appetizer made with sun-driedtomatoes and fresh roasted red peppers,served with homemade bread. A full sushimenu is also offered. Desserts include suchdelights as three decadent chocolate truffles.The bar offers various specialty drinks,such as the Moka Chiller (made fromhomemade frozen yogurt, coffee, molassesand chocolate) and Indian Mango Lassi.However, you may just decide to settle fora cold, refreshing Heineken or a glass ofwine. On certain evenings, you can enjoyentertainment such as fire and belly dancing– if you’re lucky, to the mystical auracreated by the full moon.The Ylang Ylang Restaurant and BeachResort has blossomed into a creative andrelaxing retreat soothing to the spirit.Room rates range from $85-160 andinclude breakfast. For info, call 642-0636.

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