San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Impressive Architecture, Relaxed Ambience Define L’acqua Viva in Nosara

Arriving at L’acqua Viva Resort in the Pacific beach community of Nosara, on the NicoyaPeninsula, is a little like stumbling into the world of “The Swiss Family Robinson,” in which a shipwrecked family dwells in an elaborate tree house in the East Indies – except there’s nothing rustic about the luxurious facilities here.

The hotel is divided into many tree house-like units, each surrounded by dense jungle vegetation that blends into the thatched roofs and dark red exteriors. Large, natural saltwater pools glimmer in front of the grand reception and restaurant area, which is almost intimidating with its vaulted ceilings and austere dark wood.

The architecture of the complex will not fail to impress, with the rooms and outdoor area contributing to the overall feeling of abounding space drifting into nature. The hotel’s manager, Randall Cortés, says the architecture is inspired by the Balinese style and also represents a blend of textures.

“The idea is a combination of textures, soft and hard,” he says. “We also strive for harmony with nature. The hotel is located in respect to the trees, not the other way around.”

L’acqua Viva’s eco-friendly efforts include cutting down as few trees as possible, treating its own wastewater, using biodegradable cleaning agents, and recycling.

The hotel also hopes to build small hanging bridges to connect the two expanses of jungle on either side; this way, the monkeys’ biological corridors will be less affected, and guests may enjoy the spectacle of monkeys playing outside their windows. Cortés says the hotel also wants to plant fruit trees to attract wildlife.

The suites are decorated with a range of dark and light wood. The stairs are covered in bamboo, but the bed and other furniture tend to be made of richer, darker wood.

Mixed discreetly in the hotel’s decor are a few expensive older pieces, such as the computer table dating back to 17th-century Italy in the reception area.

Each two-story unit has balconies on both floors that look out onto the expansive courtyard. The balconies are separated from the rooms by sliding glass doors, blending the distinction between indoors and outdoors.

Though the units are relatively close to each other, the trees add a feeling of privacy, insulating the suites from each other.

At night, each suite lights up with glowing outdoor lanterns.

The resort opened just last year and is still making itself known in the local hotel market.

Taking advantage of the low season, the staff is constantly carrying out maintenance on the facilities, as well as making small additions to the hotel’s gardens, lighting and decks.

Because the hotel is surrounded by the dirt road leading to Playa Guiones, a popular surf beach about two kilometers away, hotel employees wage a constant battle against the dust kicked up by car wheels. During the afternoon hours, when guests are away at the area’s beautiful beaches, hotel employees fiercely wield brooms and hoses, attempting to rid the balconies, rooms and sidewalks of dust.

Cortés says the hotel strives to provide friendly service that makes guests feel comfortable, not intruded upon. The employees generally stay out of guests’ way, and seem to go about their work almost silently.

The open-air central reception area contains a restaurant and a bar within its vast space. The main restaurant, where a complimentary breakfast of fruit, toast and yogurt is available for guests every morning, is simply decorated. Soft music, sometimes oldies, plays as diners enjoy reasonably priced meals. The bar, on the opposite side of the building, plays trendier, louder music. Alcoholic beverages are also offered in the suites’ minibars, but at a markup; a Corona costs $5, not including tax.

For sportfishing enthusiasts, the hotel has its own boat, which guests can rent with a guide for a day out on the waters surrounding the NicoyaPeninsula. A fully equipped spa will be opening soon, offering massages and other treatments for guests wanting a break from the beach.

The resort is a good place for weddings, as individual families can stay in their own units, with larger gatherings taking place in the restaurant or spacious deck and pool area. Cortés says the hotel hosted a wedding just last month and has another scheduled for February.

Note: It’s important for guests to have a car or at least a bicycle, as Playa Guiones is far enough away to be a bit of an inconvenient walk. That said, L’acqua Viva’s relaxed and elegant ambience makes for an ideal place from which to launch an exploration of the NicoyaPeninsula.

Getting There, Rates, Information

It’s best to take a car to manage the unpaved roads and long distances between beaches around Nosara. From San José, take the

Inter-American Highway west

to Puntarenas. The road turns north close to Puntarenas.

Follow the signs to Liberia and take the turn for La Amistad Bridge. Once you reach the town of Nicoya, head west toward Sámara. Take the turnoff onto an unpaved road right after a big gas station on the left.

From there, follow the signs to Nosara, about 45 minutes. L’acqua Viva is about two kilometers before Playa Guiones on the road to Sámara.

The hotel offers five types of rooms: deluxe rooms with one king bed or two queens; suites with a groundfloor living room with two daybeds and a king bed on the second floor; master suites, closer to the pool area and larger than the suites; junior villas, similar to the master suites but with a kitchen; and the commodious presidential villa. Rates during high season, Dec. 1 to April 30, range from $205 to $735 a night, depending on the room and not including tax. Rates are slightly higher during peak season, Dec. 20 to Jan. 3, and slightly lower in low season, May 1 to Nov. 30.

For reservations, call 2682-1087, e-mail or visit



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