San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Buena Vista Villas and Casas Wows Guests in Manuel Antonio

Wow. That’s the response the team behind Buena Vista Villas and Casas hoped to elicit with their new hotel and housing complex – and it worked, at least on me.

The word kept popping out throughout my stay at the resort in Manuel Antonio, on the central Pacific coast. A two-story, private home, complete with top-of-the-line furnishings and materials from all over the world? A spacious, private deck with al fresco dining, a lounge area and your own Jacuzzi? Plush bedrooms with bathrooms that open out onto secluded terraces where you can take an open-air “rain shower”? Wow, wow and wow.

Buena Vista, newly built within the older Tulemar Beach Resort and under separate management, has plenty of company in Manuel Antonio when it comes to luxury hotel and home offerings. However, the attention to detail at this resort, from the well-stocked kitchens to the cloud-like beds to the conch-and-leather keychains hanging on the wall, make Buena Vista stand out.

The resort began with hotel offerings: that’s the Villas part of the equation. Oneand two-bedroom villas, along with the less expensive Deluxe Bedroom option for one or two people, are scattered throughout the jungly hillside, leading down to a pool area and, farther below, the resort’s beach.

The Casas (houses) are newer and larger, two-story octagonal buildings with two or three spacious bedrooms and a laundry room on one floor, a living room, gourmet kitchen and deck on the other. They also tap into Costa Rica’s growing property-management market (see related story in Real Estate Supplement). If – while sitting in your bathrobe eating a breakfast of tropical fruit, freshly baked breads and hot coffee brought to your door at the hour of your choosing, contemplating your 320-degree view of the Pacific – you decide you never want to leave, you can have your wish.

The houses are for sale. Once purchased, owners indicate to the Buena Vista management when they want to use their home.

During the rest of the year, the management rents out the houses to temporary guests, splitting the profits with the owner and taking care of maintenance and all other concerns.

Designers and decorators Cynthia Voeghst, a U.S. citizen who is also the owner, and Marcela Quirce of Costa Rica, joined forces to give the houses a clean, modern and international look. Furniture from Bali, slate from India, African baskets and lava stone from Costa Rica can all be found here.

“We’re very proud of what was accomplished here,” Quirce says as she shows off one of the homes.

One enters the home through a massive teak door that immediately sends a message: this is not your average coastal dwelling.

Stepping in, your eyes go straight to the 450-square-foot wraparound veranda and the view beyond. Though the homes are fully air-conditioned, the space is certainly designed to encourage enjoying the open air, with two sets of eight-foot folding doors that open onto the dining, lounging and hot-tub-soaking space on the deck. Rocking swivel chairs, a leather coffee table, teak dining table and chairs and outdoor ceiling fans ensure comfort.

Inside, the space is flexible. The kitchen is open and the sitting area can be rearranged to accommodate guests’ needs. One thoughtful detail, for example, is the screen separating the massive color TV and an inviting daybed from the rest of the living area, keeping it from dominating the room – or, by moving the screen and swiveling the television, the entire living room can become a home theater for the big game or a movie night.

Downstairs are a laundry room, complete with washer and dryer, and two bedrooms, each with its own terrace, TV and DVD player and bathroom. The separate bathroom terraces allow you to take a conventional shower or a delicious “rain shower,” which, as one might guess from my repeated mentions of this feature, is fabulous, especially with an outside wall tall enough to ensure privacy but short enough to let you sneak another peak at that broad Pacific view.

Inside, European featherbeds and 400-count cotton sheets make it hard to get up in the morning. On the off chance you should ever desire to leave your home, recreation options abound. The resort features two pools, one near the villas and one nestled among the houses; the former has a waterfall ideal for kids and is surrounded by jungle plants, giving it a secluded feel, while the latter is an infinity pool blending in with the Pacific beyond. A bar sits next to each in case thirst or hunger strikes. A third pool, designed as a quieter spot for adults only, is now under construction, Quirce said.

Walk, or call for a ride on one of the resort’s minibuses, down the steep road to the resort’s “practically private” beach – Buena Vista’s small stretch of sand, like all beaches in Costa Rica, is open to the public, but its distance from the main road and rock outcroppings on either side mean you’ll have plenty of space. A small cash bar serves frosty brews or piña coladas, and lounging chairs beckon.

Wildlife abounds, and guests can hike through the property or sign up for a variety of tours in the area, including visits to nearby ManuelAntonioNational Park.

Buena Vista also offers wedding packages. Options range from a “Simple Elopement” ($1,600), which includes an officiant, two and a half hours with a professional photographer, a bouquet and boutonniere, and one night’s stay, to the “Luxurious Elopement in Paradise” ($3,850), with extras such as an inroom couple’s massage on the morning of the wedding, hair, makeup, manicure and pedicure for the bride, flowers, champagne, cake and music. Additional entertainment, catering and even fireworks are among the other options available.

The resort does not have its own restaurant, so guests can order room service from, or dine out at, the Tulemar Resort’s restaurant a few steps away. The menu there is massive and the food does not disappoint, from French onion soup ($5), salads and other appetizers; entrees such as black-pepper tuna, shrimp and crawfish in mango and coconut sauce, steak, pasta and chicken ($13-30); and desserts from cheesecake to flan. Cheaper lunch options include fajitas ($10) or a sandwich with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil ($8) – both delicious.

Breakfast, included in the price of your room and brought to your door as mentioned above, is simple and delicious.

High-season rates for the villas range from $200 (deluxe bedroom, maximum two people) to $475 (two-bedroom villa, maximum four). Rates for the houses range from $575 (two-bedroom) to $715 (three-bedroom, during Easter week).

For more information, visit


Comments are closed.