San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Star Watch Keeps Tabs on Celebrities in Costa Rica

IT’S summer in Costa Rica, when the dry, breezy weather and sunny skies lure the rich and famous from all corners of the globe to lounge on the country’s beaches – and hide from the frantically snapping cameras of the national press corps. Not to be outdone, The Tico Times hereby presents its own brief, occasional and frivolous glimpse into the comings and goings of Costa Rican and foreign stars.


Ashley Olsen, better known as one half of the Olsen twins – she and her twin sister Mary-Kate were once child stars sharing the role of Michelle on the syrupy TV sitcom “Full House,” and are now the owners of their own media empire – romped on the beaches of Santa Teresa, near Malpaís on the southern Nicoya Peninsula, in late December. The daily Al Día published photos of the bikini-clad star sunbathing with three friends, although they retreated to the shelter of some nearby palm trees when they noticed the cameras. Always seeking to clarify things for its readers, Al Día published a sidebar entitled “Which One is Anorexic?” referring to Mary-Kate’s treatment for the disorder last year.


–Costa Rican singer Debi Nova – who sang backup on Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin’s song “I Don’t Care” with rapper Fat Joe, and, along with Fat Joe, stars in a recent Martin video – briefly showcased her talents in the northern Pacific beach town of Tamarindo last week, Tico Times contributor Ellen Zoe Golden told Star Watch. Nova sang a song at Pasatiempo’s Open Mike Night Dec. 27. She stayed at the nearby Hacienda Pinilla Beach Resort and Residential Community.


–Pop star Pink, who visited Costa Rica in 2005, made a return appearance Jan. 7 – this time, to tie the knot, according to the U.S. magazine People, which reported that Pink married her long-term boyfriend, motocross racer and “The Surreal Life” star Carey Hart, at the Four Seasons resort in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Lisa Marie

Presley was among the more than 100 guests at the non-denominational, sunset beach ceremony. Pink popped the question at a race last June.


–Another recent wedding a lo tico: that of Bree Williamson, star of the ABC daytime drama “One Life to Live,” and Josh Evans, who owns Jobbie Longboards in Malpaís. The wedding took place Dec. 29 at the Flor Blanca hotel in Santa Teresa. Golden, a friend of Williamson’s, attended the wedding and passed on the news to Star Watch.


–The Santa Teresa-Malpaís area has been a hot spot for stars in recent years, and in our inaugural column, it seems fitting to take a look back.


Besides Olsen and Williamson, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Coldplay front man Chris Martin, have vacationed there, and John Bottom Amram, a.k.a. John Lee Phoenix, father of actors Joaquín Phoenix and the late River Phoenix – the former is now generating Oscar buzz for his performance as legendary musician Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line,” while the short but brilliant career of the latter ended with a drug overdose in 1993 – has hosted various stars at his Malpaís home.


Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and his then-girlfriend, Brazilian model Giselle Bündchen, also visited Malpaís last year. According to Al Día, DiCaprio broke a photographer’s camera and argued with a supermarket clerk about the price of sunblock, but overall the couple was much more accessible to the press and community than most stars, who tend to hide away in luxury resorts. (Bündchen is now setting up her beach towel with a different companion, since her relationship with the “Titanic” star went under in November, People magazine reports. Her new beau is champion surfer Kelly Slater, according to the Hollywood Rag, so she may be headed back to Costa Rica soon to catch some new waves.)


–Last year’s visitors also included “Walker, Texas Ranger” star Chuck Norris, who received a hero’s welcome on the central Pacific coast and stayed in the presidential suite of La Mansión Inn in Quepos.


–One star apparently not in Costa Rica, despite reports to the contrary: Al Día reported that various Internet sites spread a rumor that bronzed Texan Matthew McConaughey, star of films including “Amistad” and “Sahara” (and, more importantly, host of the 2005 TV presentation “Absolute Evel: The Evel Knievel Story”), fractured his clavicle while surfing in Costa Rica.


McConaughey was rumored to be recuperating in a local hospital, accompanied by Spanish actress Penélope Cruz, his girlfriend. However, his agent, Nicole Pérez, told Al Día the rumor was wholly untrue – the actor was in California, safe and sound. Cruz’s rep told the daily that the star, perhaps best known as the muse of compatriot and renowned director Pedro Almodóvar, was in Madrid for the holidays.


–Star Watch saw Patricia Figueroa, star of TV’s “Giros” (Repretel, Channels 6, 7 and 11), enjoying a night of live music at Tex-Mex restaurant in Santa Ana, southwest of San José, in November. Maybe she was looking for inspiration in restaurant design – the next month, she opened her own restaurant, Chancay, in the eastern suburb of Curridabat.


The restaurant offers Peruvian fare and is the second Chancay location; the first is in the western suburb of Escazú.


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