San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

The Hideaway Hotel Lives up to Name on Nicoya Peninsula

Rosy Rios and her husband, Doug Ancel, took the type of care naming their hotel that other people would take naming their children. They knew they wanted to create a type of retreat boutique hotel but took a year to find a name that embodied that idea, until a friend finally suggested The Hideaway Hotel. The fit was “perfect,” Rios says.

The U.S. couple from Reno, Nevada, recently opened the Hideaway amid a quiet jungle between the Pacific beaches of Sámara and Carrillo, on the NicoyaPeninsula. They selected the area for its seclusion and relative ease of accessibility. While other, more remote places in Costa Rica are surely worth a more involved journey to get there, Rios says, “Not everybody’s up for that type of adventure.”

Moreover, Rios appreciates Sámara’s balance of offering enough services to tourists while not being overcome by the tourism industry.

“It’s a good balance, without too many franchises like in Tamarindo or Jacó,” Rios says. “It’s more peaceful here.”

And if there were a one-word mission statement for The Hideaway Hotel, it would be “peace.”

The hotel’s 12 rooms are arranged in two pinwheel-shape buildings with rooms that open to the outside, the only shared walls between rooms being the bathrooms.

Couples, Rios says, usually elect the more secluded upper rooms that face the overhanging jungle trees, while families opt for the rooms that open right up onto the pool to provide the kids with the most direct trajectory for their aquatic cannonballs.

Each room also has its own patio that often looks right out on the surrounding jungle. To be able to enjoy the verdant foliage, Rios says, is key to the hotel’s concept.

“Greenery, palm trees – it’s what you come to the tropics for.”

The area’s fauna is not to be outdone by the flora. Roaring howler monkeys serve as an arboreal version of roosters, though this reviewer slept blissfully oblivious to such a chorus until hotel staff informed her of it the next day. Iguanas, geckos, raccoon-like coatis and hummingbirds roam uninhibited. And be sure to note the curious oversize, treedwelling red, purple and black crabs along the road toward Playa Carrillo.

Overall, Rios says, guests appreciate the hotel’s “style and privacy, and then being so close to the beach.”

And not just one beach, but two. The Hideaway is perhaps a 100-meter walk to Playa Sámara, which is dotted with small restaurants with a tucked-away cove at its southernmost end. A rocky island just offshore breaks most of the waves, making calm waters for swimmers. Snorkeling and kayaks are available right on the beach, and surfing is only a 15-minute walk away, though any of the companies will come pick you up.

Canopy, sportfishing, bird-watching, horseback riding and turtle tours are all nearby, as well as a language school. And if the idea of performing any activity on a beach vacation strikes you as antithetical, the hotel is a fiveminute walk from tranquil Playa Carrillo farther south.

Everything about Hideaway’s style is deliberate and often custom. Rios says they specifically sought out a more modern style and had many things – from the bedspread patterns to the wrought-iron deck chairs with rounded backs – custom-made for the hotel. The spacious rooms also have granite countertops, extra large pillows and reading areas complete with arguably the most comfy oversize reading chairs (two per room) in the country.

The Hideaway is designed with a clear environmental consciousness in mind. Besides small conservation moves such as biodegradable soaps and numerous hooks to let clean towels dry on their own, the hotel runs on its own wastewater treatment system. While developers seemed confused when Rios and Ancel didn’t want to just route the property’s waste straight into the ocean, the couple insisted on a system that was sustainable, Rios says. The retained water, 98.5 percent pure, is used for irrigation and is key during the dry season.

Long-term, Rios would like to convert to solar power and a carbon-neutral operation status in a move for “something responsible,” because, she says, there are “not infinite resources in any place.”

The hotel boasts a free wireless Internet network, and cable TV is “on the verge,” though still in trámite limbo. Hence, Rios says she’s looking to bring in DVD players so as not to leave the rooms’ boob tubes’ screens vacant in the interim.

The hotel has a small English-language lending library and a slew of board and card games. A line of signature cocktails – especially ones inspired by the mangos in the hotel’s backyard – is planned in coming months, as well as a common area and big screen to host sports-watching events and movie and dessert nights.

“My concepts always center around desserts,” Rios says. “And desserts will always include chocolate.”

Maybe “chocolate” could be incorporated along with “peace” into The Hideaway’s mission statement.

Getting There, Rates, Info

The Hideaway Hotel is located at the south end of Playa Sámara, across from Isla Chora, on the road between Sámara and Carrillo; turn west at the ICE telecommunications tower and look for the sign. Buses from San José leave daily from the Alfaro station, 150 meters northwest of the Coca-Cola terminal (2222-2666, five to six hours). Sansa offers daily flights between San José and the small Sámara/Carrillo airport (, 50 minutes).

“Green season” standard room rates are $85 from May to November. Rates go up to $100 December to April and $125 during Christmas, New Year and Easter weeks. A special introductory rate of $75 is being offered through the end of October. All rates are  for single or double occupancy before tax, with $20 more per extra body, and include breakfast. Kids under 5 stay for free. Group and corporate discounts are available. All rooms sleep up to four people in either two queen beds or one king and one full pullout bed, and are equipped with air conditioning, minifridges and irons and ironing boards, among other amenities. Two rooms are wheelchair-accessible.

For information and reservations, call 2656-1145, e-mail or visit



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