San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Drake Bay luxury hotel totally sweet

Like most of the visitors to Corcovado National Park, I was more than happy to contend with high humidity, scalding temperatures and my skin’s exposure to more than 6,000 species of insects residing outside of my tent to experience the stunning landscape and exotic animal sightings in one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.

While I’m no stranger to roughing it, what I did not realize, covered in dirt, lying in a puddle of my sweat, was how drastically air conditioning and silky sheets at Drake Bay’s Copa de Arbol would change my appreciation for my surroundings and, honestly, my general outlook on life the following evening.

The newcomer on the Drake Bay hotel scene, Copa de Arbol is the clear front-runner for the most lavish lodgings in town. Its eight air-conditioned cabins are decked out with glossy wooden floors and faux-palm roofs to make you feel perfectly at home in the jungle, while the Asian decor generates a feeling of exotic luxury. Each cabin has its own balcony, allowing guests to soak up the spectacular views of the beach and rain forest.

Copa de Arbol Hotel 2

Room at Copa de Arbol Hotel.

Lindsay Fendt

Meals are all included at Copa de Arbol and, while the selection is limited, the simple casados are well executed and delicious.  From the open-air restaurant, visitors can also head up to a third-floor lounge overlooking the bay. 

Opened in May, Copa de Arbol had been in the works for 10 years, according to its owners, native Californians Mike Michaelsen and Jason Tress. The hotel’s Playa Caletas address, an area only accessible by boat or rigorous jungle trek, was a significant obstacle during its construction, especially when building the pool.

The glorious three-tiered infinity pool sits right in the middle of the property and boasts the only hot tub in town. Though the hotel had to shut down for a month to install it, the owners have no regrets about the time investment.

“If you do this, you intend to do a good job,” Michaelsen said. “Vacations are what photo albums are full off, people work really hard to get the time off and the money to do that and they are trusting you. You can’t screw that up.”

During my stay I was hard-pressed to find a screw-up, and Copa de Arbol walks the fine line of eco-lodge and high-class hotel with ease, allowing Drake Bay’s thundering wilderness do most of the talking.

The views are everywhere, but to really get a feel for the surroundings, guests can hit up one of the hotel’s private hiking trails or swing in a hammock at the easily accessible beach. The Caletas area is known for its secluded coves, and a walk down the coastline is sure to lead to the discovery of a swimming-hole hideaway.

“Here you can have a sloth fall into your lap at breakfast, and in October the whale watching is incredible.” Michaelsen said. “This area does a whole lot of the work for you, because it tends to exceed people’s expectations.”

Going There: 

Copa de Arbol is located in Drake Bay. The fastest way to get there is to fly from San José to Drake Bay, and the hotel provides shuttle service. Guests with rental cars can make the 4.5-hour drive to Sierpe and park there for $6 a day.
Prices at Copa del Arbol range from $200 per person in the low season to $280 during the holiday season for a deluxe cabin and $220-$300 for a luxury cabin. Children get a discount starting at $140. The price includes one night, three meals, kayaks and stand up paddle boards.

Contact Lindsay Fendt at

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