San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Views, comfort, food impress at Ringle Resort

From the print edition

It’s not every day somebody gives you a haircut and a shave at a hotel. But when you’re traveling on business in Costa Rica, and you’ve accumulated a bit of scruff, Ringle Resort’s ReVive Life Spa has you covered. Hair maintenance is just one of the Ringle touches that caters to business travelers who make frequent visits to Costa Rica, along with anybody else seeking a home away from home in the hills.

To the southwest of San José, the resort’s five manicured acres straddle the upscale suburb of Escazú and the town of Santa Ana on a verdant hillside known as Alto de las Palomas. Ensconced in palm trees, Ringle Resort’s hotel, open-air Mediterranean restaurant, poolside bar, spa and balconies offer stunning views of the bustling capital and distant volcanoes.

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The resort is guarded by a statue from Midway Island. Courtesy of Ringle Resort

Owner Ed Ringle has been renovating the property for the past five years, but the home concept wasn’t much of a stretch. Once dubbed “Casa Helga,” the hotel is a former colonial mansion that in past decades served as digs to well-heeled Tico families. The tasteful decor and hardwood furnishings in each of the 10 rooms – which are all uniquely adorned – exude the charm of a wealthy uncle’s estate in the European countryside. They also offer all the comforts of a luxurious, modern home, including flat-screen TVs, cable, free wireless Internet, air conditioning and iPod clock radios.

The restaurant, called Mezze after the Greek word for tapas, is in the capable hands of chef Jorge Cordero, who makes particularly delicious tzatziki, hummus and eggplant Napoleon. (For best results, pair with a glass of Altos Las Hormigas Malbec.) Cordero trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and has worked at some of Costa Rica’s top restaurants, including the former Cerutti, Saga and Jürgen’s.

In addition to the complimentary breakfast consisting of delicious tropical fruit and traditional gallo pinto, those who visit the spa during the day can partake in a “spa lunch.” Carpaccios, light salads and panini made with homemade bread are all on the menu, and the facility also features full bathrooms for patrons who aren’t staying in the hotel.

General manager Nick Costas said additional plans for the property in coming weeks and years include a library, a business center, a nearly finished casita (with two bedrooms, two baths and a full kitchen), and a grand “multifunction” room that would host business meetings and weddings.

Eventually, Costas anticipates that Ringle Resort will add another 30 rooms, as well as a place where people can work out, get their shoes shined and have their suits pressed – just like they’d be able to do before a business meeting at home. He hopes people will come to think of the Ringle not as a hotel, but as a “home-tel.”

“The boutique hotel concept is familiar to a lot of people, but we’re trying to do something different,” he said. “Our idea is that people who come here will be treated like family, and all their needs will be attended to.”

Going There

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Poolside view. Courtesy of Ringle Resort

Take the old road (Calle Vieja) from Escazú toward Santa Ana, and turn left up the hill before the Refugio Herpetológico de Costa Rica (snake refuge). It’s about a three-minute drive up, and you’ll see the gates on your left. Drive time is about 20 minutes from downtown San José or the airport.

Rates run the gamut from $65 for the shared Colibrí room to $195 for the Jaguar suite (great view) to $350 for the Casita, plus taxes. All rates include breakfast. Several packages are available including spa treatments and day trips. For information and reservations, call 2203-0701 or visit

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