San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

‘Disconnect From Normal Life’ at Vista del Valle

The feel of the city dissolves in the thick vegetation lining the narrow mountain road that winds upward to Vista del Valle Plantation Inn, in the northwestern Central Valley coffee town of Rosario de Naranjo. Upon entering Vista del Valle, a feeling of isolation from the outside world and a refreshing sense of peace are created by the towering trees and endless vegetation.

That is exactly what owners Michael and Johanna Bresnan aim to provide.

“We want people to come here and be able to disconnect from normal life,” Michael says. “We hope they will sense the peace, quiet, tranquility, hospitality and the beauty of this natural diversity that we have here.”

Big Cheese

Greenhouse-fresh produce.
 Adam Williams | Tico Times


From the entry walkway to the far boundary of the 52-acre plantation, Vista del Valle is rich with brilliant flowers and lush vegetation, which line the walkways, central restaurant, pool and private cottages of the plantation. The vibrant flora displays the magic of cultivated nature, while the valley view – the vista del valle – reminds guests of the beauty of Mother Nature.

“We are world travelers and have been to many countries and hotels all over the world, and this is the most beautiful view we’ve ever seen,” says Dahlia Klein, a guest at the inn “There’s also a real respect for nature here. They haven’t plowed through the vegetation to create this. You can tell it was made with a real labor of love.”

The Bresnans confirm that Vista del Valle was indeed created from a labor of love. Looking at pictures of the barren property they bought in 1989, it is evident how much work went into developing it into what it is today. Though a hotel was not in the Bresnans’ plans when they bought the property 20 years ago, as more and more friends and guests came to visit, they found themselves playing host more than they had anticipated. In 1992, they decided to open a bed-and-breakfast in the main house, which is now the reception area and gift shop.

Since then, the ideas and development have continued, and what was once a one-room bed-and-breakfast has evolved into a complex of 10 quaint cottages, seven villas, a large pool and spa area with a pool bar, and an opulent central restaurant and bar offering savory dishes and tasty cocktails. Horse tours are available on the property, and a pathway leads down to a 300-foot waterfall in the Río Grande canyon.

 On Saturday nights, a band plays a variety of North American favorites at the restaurant from about 4 to 8 p.m., while on Sundays the Joe Anello Quartet plays smooth, cooing jazz at lunchtime, from noon to 2 p.m.

“The music weekend is a commitment to community,” Michael says. “We hope to offer art and music to both expatriates and Costa Ricans in the area. Usually we see a good international mix of people.”

After the music, guests at the hotel can find their way back to their cottages and villas, which are spread out over the property. Accessed via a footpath that crosses a small bridge and koi pond, each cottage is isolated in a nook of the property, separated from neighbors and within earshot of the river at the base of the valley below. The cottages feature different designs and themes, such as the Mona Lisa Rancho, with its thatch roof and private outdoor shower, and the Exotic Wood Suites, with views of the canyon and balconies ideal for bird-watching.

 Though the Bresnans are proud of the development and beauty of their property, they are prouder still of their emphasis on sustainability. The greenhouse on the far end of the property uses a hydroponic growing system to cultivate lettuce, tomatillos, cabbage and a host of other produce used in dishes at the restaurant, and the inn hires only local employees from Rosario del Naranjo and surrounding areas.

“We try to be a tourist business that has a conscience toward enhancing not only the environment, but every aspect of the local life around us,” Michael says. “The idea is to enhance the natural resources, culture and traditions, but also to do it in a way that benefits the local folks.”

Whether an employee, guest or restaurant visitor, it seems that everyone who passes through this luxurious refuge in the hills benefits from the experience.

 Check out The Tico Times’ ever-popular travel guide, Exploring Costa Rica.
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