San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Extraordinary Living for Extraordinary Budgets

For those seeking “extraordinary living” in Costa Rica, Sotheby’s, the 262-year old auction house of London and New York, offers a smattering of fancy estates through four offices in the country.

The Costa Rican franchise, owned by Central American Premiere Properties, has been here a year and a half, and publishes a slick, 7,000-copy promotional magazine, Azul, three times yearly.

“In the dry season… international and local games thunder in the natural amphitheatre field of Ellerstina, in Guanacaste,” Azul reported for its September cover story on an uncommon but historic Costa Rican sport: polo. The magazine also features a short story on the “most valuable piece of Latin American art ever auctioned,” Frida Kahlo’s “Roots.” (It sold at Sotheby’s auction house in London for $5,065,750, Azul reported.)

Seven of Sotheby’s International Realty Costa Rica properties are priced higher than the Kahlo painting, including the $16.5 million Hacienda Palmilla, in Bahía Culebra, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.

The five-bedroom, 550-square-meter house sits on 58 hectares of “rolling hills with outstanding ocean vistas.” The property “lends itself to select development or a golf course scheme,” according to its listing in Azul.

Down the shore toward Tamarindo, $3.9 million will buy Casa las Tortugas, a 600-square-meter house in Playa Langosta that “features both Old World Spanish and Far Eastern design elements,” along with a pool and a caretaker’s apartment.

Also in Playa Langosta is Villa Marrakech ($6.9 million) – “a work of art that is unprecedented in Costa Rica,” according to Azul.

Villa Marrakech, designed by Abraham Valenzuela, is a 746-squaremeter Moroccan-looking house.

For under $500,000, one can buy the twobedroom Tamarindo Preserve Ibis Condominiums in Tamarindo ($495,000), the twobedroom Acqua Residences in Jacó, in the Puntarenas province on the central Pacific coast ($400,000), or the four-bedroom Posada del Sol in Santa Ana, southwest of San José ($360,000), among others.

The company’s Web site,, lists 46 properties ranging in price from about $200,000 to more than $16 million. About three-fourths are on the beaches of Guanacaste and Puntarenas, and 28 are listed for more than $1 million.

“We seek prospective purchasers in the second home market and financial institutions looking for investment opportunities for their clients,” the Web site states. Those who manage to list their Costa Rican properties with Sotheby’s might find them advertised in Robb Report, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Magazine, besides a few Sotheby’s publications and, of course, its Web site.

General manager Danilo Arias says the company, which is planning to open a fifth office on the central Pacific coast, has sold about 35 luxury properties since setting up shop here. About 80% of those sales were between U.S. citizens, he said.

Central American Premiere Properties also owns the rights to Nicaraguan and Panamanian franchises of Sotheby’s International Realty, but hasn’t yet opened operations in these countries.


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