San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

JW Marriott Takes Luxury to New Heights

At the inauguration of the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa in February, Ricardo Poma, president of El Salvador-based developer Grupo Poma, told the elegant crowd that the first time he came to Hacienda Pinilla Beach Resort and Residential Community, he fell in love with its sprawling dry forest, temperate weather, gorgeous Pacific beaches and lovely people, and decided to build the five-star hotel at this location.

Offering world-class luxury from top to bottom, the resort boasts the distinction of being the only JW Marriott in Central America, and only the 40th in the world.

From the minute you drive into the colonial-style entrance within Hacienda Pinilla, just south of Tamarindo in the northwestern Guanacaste province, you feel well served by the highly trained staff, which totals 300. Check-in takes place at private, one-on-one desks.

We had to laugh after our bellman told us we wouldn’t have much of an ocean view, only to discover a full-on seaside perch, albeit set back in the resort. Our room, like the entire hotel, featured high-quality lavishness and comfort, with polished woodwork, down comforters and custom duvets on the king-size bed, computerized temperature controls, minibar, wireless Internet and CD player. In the bathroom, fine bath products accompanied the deep tub with spray jets in view of the flat-screen TV (with attachments for computer and video games).

However, given the resort’s onsite attractions, there’s not much call to spend time in your room, what with the beach, five food and beverage outlets (see separate story on facing page), an opulent spa, fitness facility, 2,300-square-meter pool – the largest in Central America – and Hacienda Pinilla’s golf facilities, as well as a full range of offsite touring activities.

During the day, guests can partake of the immense pool. Locals are welcome as well, with the resort offering a pool day pass for $40, which can be used toward food and beverage. Just off the pool is the lovely beach known as Playa Mansita, home to Yefrey Rojas and Brian Martin’s Wahoo Water Sports, which rents kayaks, boogie boards, surfboards, snorkeling equipment and bicycles, as well as arranging surf lessons. Sample prices are $15 a day for a boogie board, $20 for a bicycle and $50 per person for groups of up to four people for surf lessons.

The spa – also the largest in Central America, at 1,930 square meters – offers lavish pampering at resort-comparable prices. Massages cost $110 for an hour or $150 for 90 minutes, facials run from $125 to $165 and body treatments range from $60 to $165. Open-air treatment rooms are available for a wide variety of wraps, scrubs and massages with gorgeous views. (Indoor treatment rooms are also available for the less nature-inclined.)

Among the 30 different treatment options is the spa’s signature massage, the Aromatherapy Raindrop Treatment, in which eight drops of essential oils are placed along the spine and Tibetan reflexology is then applied, according to spa manager Nathalie Tosso. Other popular treatments include the Classic European Facial, Ricecorn and Tamarind Scrub, Watermelon Aloe Vera Gel Wrap and Volcanic Fango Wrap.

Paying guests are afforded free use of a private outdoor bathing, shower, sauna, steam and rest area. A hair salon and waxing services are also available.

The spa also offers guests a daily Sunset Ritual between 5 and 6 p.m., featuring nice music, two-for-one champagne and mojitos and an attractive fruit setup.

For those who can’t leave work behind, the resort offers a wonderful way to mix business and pleasure with the resources of its five meeting rooms, totaling 700 square meters of space. Dedicated event managers ensure meetings go smoothly from beginning to end, and top-notch business services include the standard computer, printer and Internet facilities as well as secretarial, translation, audiovisual, production and labor services that go beyond the norm.

Talking with Carlos Diago, resort manager, it’s clear the region is well served by this world-class resort.

“Looking at the guest satisfaction survey (results), we are already No. 10 out of all the JW Marriotts in the world,” Diago said. “That is pretty great.”

Getting There, Rates, Info

From DanielOduberInternationalAirport in Liberia, drive two kilometers to the main road and turn right. Continue through the towns of Guardia, Comunidad, Palmira, Filadelfia and Belén. At Belén, turn right at the gas station and continue, passing through Santa Ana and Huacas. Once in Huacas, turn left and continuing to the town of Villarreal, where you will see signs for Hacienda Pinilla. Enter Hacienda Pinilla and the guard will direct you to the JW Marriott. The drive is approximately 50 km (an hour).

Rates (not including taxes): $239 for a deluxe room with garden view, $289 for a deluxe room with ocean view, $339 for a deluxe oceanfront room, $439 for a one-bedroom suite with garden view, $539 for a suite with ocean view, $639 for a an oceanfront suite and $1,639 for a presidential suite.

For reservations, call 2681-2000 within Costa Rica or 1-888-236-2427 toll-free from the United States, or visit


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