If you’re in Costa Rica at year’s end, during one of the country’s busiest tourist weeks, get ready for bottomless buffets, tropical cocktails, champagne fizz, hip-shaking live Latino sounds, fireworks, carnival masks, necklaces and processions – or stay home.
From the Central Valley to the Pacific coast, you will be within striking distance of all-evening events that will strive to make this New Year’s Eve one to remember.
In downtown San José, enjoy a dinner buffet, dance to the Banda Chiqui Chiqui and crack up at Nel López’s comic show at the Aurola Holiday Inn (2253-1000). The price is $75 per person or $40 per child, tax included.
Rest up and recover by spending the night and checking out late – 4 p.m. – for $49.99 per person, breakfast included.
At the Barceló San José Palacio (2220-2034) in the western La Uruca district, the buffet begins at 9 p.m. to the smooth sounds of Charlie Rivero and Son del Pueblo. At 11:15, the evening heats up as Requete takes center stage. Receive the new year with a carnival procession, complete with cimarronas a la tica, a Tico tradition where costumed partygoers dance to live, trumpeted music. Requete takes over again until 3 a.m. The price is ¢40,000 (about $73), including dinner.
The Real InterContinental hotel (2208-2122) in the western suburb of Escazú will supply carnival garb – hats, whistles and necklaces – so guests can get decked out and toast the new year with a glass of sparkler and 12 grapes to be eaten at midnight, according to local custom. The cost is ¢59,000 ($107), dinner and grapes included.
It will be a white New Year’s at White House Hotel (2288-6362), whose location in the hills of San Antonio de Escazú affords a great view of Central Valley fireworks. Partygoers are encouraged to dress all in white for the five-course dinner, champagne, party favors, music and dancing. The per-person price is $100.
Or, follow the josefinos – the San José residents – to the beach, where the seaside atmosphere and hoards of vacationers promise to animate the nighttime festivities.
In Jacó, on the central Pacific coast, watch the fireworks from the fourth-floor, beachfront terrace of Canciones del Mar (2643-3273) while grooving to the tropical music of Grof y Grof. The evening will include an appetizer, main plate and dessert, for a price to be determined.
Just north of Jacó, in Playa Herradura, treat yourself to sashimi, hot and sour shrimp soup, tempura, green curry chicken and a smorgasbord of other Asian delicacies at the ultra-swank Los Sueños Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort (2630-9013). Fireworks and live music will cap off the night. The price per person is $230.
In Playa Hermosa, south of Jacó, party on the beach to live local rock music, a bonfire and a pork roast. The Backyard Bar of the Backyard Hotel (2643-7011) will host the event cover-free, but expect to pay $20 for dinner and another $20 for a bottle of bubbly to toast the countdown to midnight.
Head south down the coast to Quepos, where El Gran Escape (2777-0765) will be hosting its eighth annual Mardi Gras-infused New Year’s Eve bash. Enjoy the seafood extravaganza and dessert buffets, midnight champagne toast and comparsa music for $50 a person. Fireworks will go off at midnight, and the thousands in the streets will party till dawn.
On the northern Pacific coast, Hotel Tamarindo Diria (2653-0031) in Tamarindo will celebrate in its beachfront tropical gardens with a gala buffet made up of carving and seafood stations. Vino Tinto will play Latin rhythms into 2009. Adults pay $120; kids are half off.
Just north, the Luis Castillo guitar and violin duo will serenade gourmet buffet diners at Villa del Sueño Restaurant (2672-0026) in Playa Hermosa. A mobile disco will transition diners to the dance floor. The price is $75 per person, all-inclusive.
Bars and discos in every tourist town will be blowing up, so if reservations and fixed prices aren’t your thing, leave the night open to spontaneity. Enjoy responsibly!