The car left town and rumbled across rocks and sand before making a turn into the jungle. The four-wheel-drive vehicle parked in front of the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort that sprouted out of the green landscape.
The hotel is named after the yellow ylang-ylang (pronounced ee-lang-ee-lang) flower often used in perfumes, and one of the many sights and smells found in the wilderness that encompasses the area. Located next to the beach in Montezuma, on the southern tip of northwestern Costa Rica’s NicoyaPeninsula, the resort is a gorgeous, tranquil spot in the middle of nature.
Owners Patricia and Lenny Iacono planted trees to reforest areas where the bungalows, cabins and suites were built. They also added underbrush that now stretches over the stone walkways and surrounds the pool area and excellent on-site restaurant. The underbrush attracted new animals, such as the oversized hamsters called agoutis, to the land.
“If people love nature, you can’t go wrong (in Montezuma),” Patricia Iacono said. “It’s beautiful.”
The isolated area does place guests a 10- to 15-minute walk from the town and its bevy of artisan stores and seafood restaurants.
But it’s a safe walk even at night; the most intimidating creatures one might encounter are the gigantic green turtles that lay eggs on the shore. The hotel gives guests flashlights for the late-night jaunt, but keep them off to watch the moonlight illuminate the Pacific Ocean.
The seclusion also makes Ylang Ylang a popular place for weddings, honeymooners or guests looking to escape in nature.
Arriving and departing lodgers are picked up in a sturdy four-wheel-drive vehicle. The dozen-plus air-conditioned rooms overlook either the beach or jungle. Bungalow walls are painted with images of exotic animals. Stone tiki-like statues of snakes, monkeys and tribal masks greet visitors to different parts of the resort. Towels folded to resemble rabbits receive guests in their rooms.
Scattered throughout the resort are pairs of hammocks, ideal for observing the hotel’s wilder guests: White-faced capuchin monkeys leap through the mango trees, hermit crabs skitter across the ground and the goofy basilisk lizard can be seen fleeing on its two hind legs. The basilisk has the ability to run across water, earning the reptile its nickname, the Jesus Christ lizard.
A walk down the beach and guests will come upon huge waterfalls. The hotel can also arrange jungle or boating excursions through area tour operators.
“This place is good for so many different people,” Iacono said. “There’s so much to do. There are so many different tours. There are so many different walks. You don’t even have to do a tour. You can just walk on the beaches.”
The Iacono s started building the resort in 1989 as an offshoot to its in-town sister hotel, El Sano Banano. By 2005, the resort had expanded enough that it was christened with its own name, Ylang Ylang. Since then, the Iaconos have refurbished the bungalows and added yoga and Latin dance classes (lessons include options like salsa, samba and merengue). The Ianocos’ daughter, Syska, instructs the classes.
Another new addition is the year-old spa. Inhale the smell of eucalyptus emanating from the tents where guests receive massages, choose an organic massage oil and let the masseuses go to work. Staying awake in the spa is a futile struggle. Lulling sounds emerge from the jungle. The waves roll onto the shoreline.
Nestled in nature, Ylang Ylang is a retreat that accommodates relaxation and bliss.
It’s Wild Out Here
No guide is necessary to spot all kinds of wildlife in the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort area. Just keep your eyes and ears open, and you may spot giant Green turtles laying eggs on the beach or hear the otherworldly cries of howler monkeys. After one weekend at the resort, The Tico Times identified a variety of exotic animals, including:
–A boa constrictor
–Hermit and land crabs
–Iguanas, basilisks and geckos
–Green sea turtle
–White-faced capuchin monkeys
Getting There, Rates, Info
Ylang Ylang Beach Resort is a short walk on the beach from the town of Montezuma. From San José, head west to the Pacific port city of Puntarenas, where you board the hour-and-15-minute car ferry to Paquera (Naviera Tambor, 2661-2084, www.navieratambor.com). Exiting the ferry, follow the main road until you get to an intersection in the town of Cóbano (35 km); take a left at the Banco Nacional and drive 7 km to Montezuma. Arrive at El Sano Banano restaurant and the front desk will call a driver to take you to Ylang Ylang.
Room rates include breakfast and dinner, and vary depending on the room, season and number of people, starting from $140. Views of each room, specific rates and a list of amenities may be found at www.ylangylangbeachresort.com, or call 2642-0636 for information.