Robinson Crusoe, in Daniel Defoe’s novel, made his home in a banyan tree. North Americans Jim and Barbara Thompson have built their inn around two of these amazing trees, known in Costa Rica as strangler figs. However, if you visit Blue Banyan Inn, you will not be spending the night in one of these giant botanical boa constrictors.
The inn stands on five acres of a 65-acre property known as Finca Azul. This sprawling abandoned farmland is just 13 kilometers from Quepos, a busy port town on the central Pacific coast and the gateway to ManuelAntonioNational Park, with its beautiful beaches and forest. Nevertheless, Blue Banyan Inn is worlds away from what has become one of the country’s busiest tourist destinations.
To get there, you have to drive along a dirt road through palm plantations. This can be slightly intimidating, but when you approach the inn you realize you have reached a secluded haven surrounded by nature. The views of the rolling hills, rain forest and mountain range beyond are just one of the joys Blue Banyan Inn offers its guests.
The hospitable Thompsons are dedicated to making their property and accommodations a relaxing hideaway. Before making the move here, Jim, a retired Canadian Air Force and helicopter pilot, and Barbara, a flight attendant from Miami, often visited Barbara’s brother, Chip Braman, and Jennifer Rice, partners at the Hotel Mono Azul in Manuel Antonio. Encouraged by Braman and Rice, they purchased the property two and a half years ago and began developing the land where the inn now stands.
The beautifully landscaped gardens, manicured lawns and lighted pathways make a perfect setting for the large, inviting swimming pool with a bubbling waterfall that tumbles over sculptured rocks. The three luxury garden cottages – another will be finished in the near future – offer romantic seclusion and total privacy.
The cottages and the main building with its large open-air restaurant and comfortable lounge were designed by talented and environmentally aware Tico architect Carlos Rojas. His concept of mixing sight, sound and smell can be seen everywhere. The spacious cottages overlook the garden and panoramic view. The scent of flowering plants, the sight of brilliant blue morpho butterflies and the sound of birdcalls and croaking frogs are all enhanced by the products of Barbara’s talents as a self-taught interior decorator.
She has made the cottages an elegant delight with her choices of natural wood furnishings, fabrics and artwork depicting the wildlife, sights and colors of Costa Rica.
Cottages 1 and 2 have two queen-size beds, while the third cottage with a living room and sink has a double and a trundle bed and is handicapped-accessible.
The large bathrooms with river-stone shower stalls have abundant hot water, and the fully screened rooms offer all the comforts of home: large closets, a small desk, sofa, bedside lamps, ceiling fans, air-conditioning, refrigerator, coffeemaker with complimentary coffee and DVD player. A free DVD library, Internet access and an honor-system bar can be found in the reception area.
The porch of each cottage, with its comfortable furnishings, is a delightful place to sit, relax with a book or contemplate nature.
If you can drag yourself away from the pool, you can play a game of horseshoes, table tennis or darts, or walk the trails around the property. The Thompsons are happy to suggest activities in the area or book one of many available tours.
A short walk from the inn is the Animal Sanctuary, where guests can visit the family of marmosets being looked after by the Thompsons. Future plans for the sanctuary, in conjunction with Kids Saving the Rainforest (www.kidssavingtherainforest.org), include creating an animal rescue and rehabilitation center, as well as a butterfly and medicinal herb garden.
Blue Banyan Inn is definitely for nature lovers, so don’t expect any nightlife, unless you take a trip to town. The Bird and Butterfly Restaurant, decorated with a fascinating collection of local wood, metal and colorful crafts by area artists, is open only for breakfast during the low season. Jim is an excellent cook, and his hearty breakfasts are included in the rates. Fruit, bacon and eggs, wonderful pancakes, gallo pinto, bottomless coffee and juice are all on offer.
After that, you are on your own, but the kitchen is available if you want to cook or heat up an evening meal. Otherwise, you could go hungry if you haven’t had a substantial meal in town or brought your own food.
However, this will change in the near future, when the restaurant opens for dinner.
Getting There, Rates, Info
Heading south on the road from San José and Jacó, just before Quepos, turn left at the fork in the road leading to Dominical. Continue for 300 meters and turn left just past the QueposCemetery at the Blue Banyan Inn sign. Follow the road through the palm plantation. You’ll see a colorful sign painted on a large rock; turn right and follow further signs. It’s five kilometers to the inn from the main dirt road leading to Dominical.
Rates are $70 to $80 in the low season, $100 high season and $120 peak season for single or double occupancy, including breakfast but not taxes.
Add $10 per additional guest. Children under 10 stay for free.
For information and reservations, call 2777-2572 or 8827-8243, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bluebanyaninn.com.