Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ventanas at The Springs Resort

You know how the word "paradise" means something different to everyone? After taking a trip to Costa Rica, my vision includes green landscapes, whispering rainforests, cooling waterfalls, a mystical volcano and a labyrinth of springs. We visited the area known as La Fortuna, near the famous Arenal Volcano and stayed in a resort called The Springs Resort and Spa.  Although it's about a 3 1/2 hour taxi ride from San Jose Airport, the time flew pretty fast since the private driver showed us some of the sights along the way and took us to eat to a local "Soda" (a small family owned  affordable restaurant).

Enjoying the view from the main pool with the Swim Up Bar.
You could literally sit in the comfortable chairs inside the
pool for hours gazing at the sights and chatting with the
friendly bartenders.

The minute we arrived at The Springs, my jaw dropped. For you ladies that enjoy watching The Bachelor (don't worry - we don't have to admit it publicly), this is the resort that was featured in the sixth episode of the show. Imagine lush, green, exotic gardens and colorful flowers, surrounded by 18 private natural, hot springs and waterfalls. The stimulation to the senses goes beyond the beautiful surroundings and the soothing, therapeutic waters, to relaxing sounds accentuated by the calls of native birds like the toucan and Costa Rica's very own popular little fellow, the hummingbird.

Here little toucan...feeding the handsome dude inside his house.

Besides the paradise found within the hotel, the resort also features an outdoor adventure area called Club Rio, which offers all sorts of activities such as river kayaking, river tubing, hiking, rock climbing and rappelling, hot springs and mountain biking. We had a blast doing the kayaking and the tubing along the Arenal River and besides the thrill, the views were spectacular. Within the area, there is a Wildlife Preserve for rescued animals where guests can actually go inside a cage with toucans and interact with them as well as get up close and personal with pumas, ocelots, margays, jaguarundis, spider monkeys and capuchin monkeys.

Where's Maria?
You're probably wondering about the rooms. Well, this is where things become even more impressive. Each Guest Room and Villa includes a private terrace with its very own astounding view of the Arenal Volcano. There are two relaxing hammocks on either side of the terrace where you can lay and read your 50 Shades of Grey while cooling down between the hot scenes by admiring the breathtaking view. The rooms are beautiful and have luxurious marbled bathrooms, with spacious Jacuzzi tubs (in case you want to continue your reading (or whatever) indoors).

Every balcony has a breathtaking view of Arenal Volcano

Tres Cascadas Restaurant
Las Ventanas Restaurant
On to the food. There are several dining options ranging from the more casual to the upscale experience. Of course we tried all of them: buffet breakfast at Tres Cascadas, fresh sushi in the afternoon at Ginger Sushi, and a hamburger cliff-side at the Treetops Grill. However, the place that blew us away was their fine dining restaurant, Las Ventanas. We tried Las Ventanas for dinner on our last night at The Springs. The amazing views of the twinkling lights of nearby Ciudad de Quesada were spectacular. It was truly phenomenal to be up so high above the river below

We started our adventure with the Seared Ahi Tuna Antipasto, a flavorful dish consisting of marinated ahi tuna, kalamata and manzanilla olive tapenade, arugula and basil tomato confit topped with shaved Grana Padano cheese, served with a toasted Garlic Crostini. It was a perfect balance of flavors and textures beautifully arranged in one plate. 

Seared Ahi Tuna Antipasto

Blackened Mahi Mahi
Springs Salmon
For the next course, we ordered two entrees, the Blackened Mahi Mahi and the Springs Salmon. The Mahi Mahi's otherwise sweet, mildly pronounced taste was emboldened with the blackened seasoning and a jalapeno beurre blanc sauce. It was served with delicious pearl potatoes and a medley of sauteed vegetables grown exclusively for the resort in a local organic farm. The Salmon dish was just as colorful and appealing to the eye as well as to the palate. Cooked to perfection and served with sushi rice, it was prepared with an Asian twist; infusing a harmony of sweet and salty flavors like avocado, fried seaweed and Unagui Sauce. I was absolutely smitten from the first  bite.

Fantasia de Chocolate
As a grand finale to this amazing meal, we ended with the Fantasia de Chocolate, or Chocolate Fantasy. It was a tribute to chocolate lovers featuring a flourless brownie, chocolate mousse, chocolate ice-cream, and a chocolate tube. Did I say chocolate enough times? While simpler in its design than the rest of the meal, we enjoyed our sinful sweet and paired it with a frothy capuccino,

Who wants a milky moustache?
A stay at The Springs Resort & Spa is unforgettable. While it may make a small dent in your pocket, it is well worth the experience. I highly recommend it when you're visiting Costa Rica and want to experience it full force. Service is superb, the cocktails are memorable and you'll want to book your return stay before you even leave the resort. For more information, visit their site at The Springs Resort & Spa. By the way, stay tuned for some more fabulous places to stay and dine in Costa Rica when I take you to eat inside an antique airplane, El Avion; show you the best spot to enjoy a typical Casado, and give you tips on where to meet some friendly monkeys over breakfast, on the Pacific Side of the country right smack in the middle of the Manuel Antonio Rainforest and Beach. Pura Vida!

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