Hotel Punta Islita
In July 2014, we took a 10 day vacation to Costa Rica and for the first four days we stayed at Hotel Punta Islita. Wow, what a fantastic hotel and here's just a few reasons why we loved it and can highly recommend Hotel Punta Islita:
- first class service from a friendly and out-going staff
- outstanding lodging options including a stunning 4 bedroom villa
- a lush and beautiful setting surrounded by tropical forest and colorful fauna
- good food with excellent service
- some fun amenities and adventures to enjoy
Hotel Punta Islita is located along the sunny Nicoya Peninsula in western Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province and its perched on a hillside on 300 acres over looking the Pacific Ocean. It is relatively secluded and only accessible via a bumpy twisting and turning up and down dirt road through dense jungle. In fact the website discourages late evening arrivals. I wish we (our two daughters, their husbands, and 5 kids under 9) had read that before we decided to take our time arriving because we had to drive that road in the dark, having no idea where we were going, and wondering if we would ever get there! It's only a 45 minute dirt road drive (it seemed like it took hours) but as soon as we arrived we were met by Louis who warmly greeted us, handed us our complimentary cocktail, told us to head to the restaurant, and come back tomorrow and check in. He then took our 3 car keys and took the cars to our villa and unloaded the bags for 11 of us! He even put our beer in the refrigerator and added ice to our cooler! And during the rest of our stay, every time we saw him, he greeted us by name, including the kids, and wanted to know how everything was going and if we needed anything. Just a small example of the excellent service that we experienced over the next four days.
When we walked into the restaurant we were greeted by Randy, who was assigned to our group, and did a fabulous job of taking good care of us for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! He was friendly, outgoing, and focused on making sure we had everything we needed. Everyone, including the kids, fell in love with Randy and we all wanted to take him home with us! After a great dinner, we linked up with my brother and his wife who arrived earlier in the day, and we headed over to our Villa.
The Colibrí Villa at Hotel Punta Islita
We stayed in the four bedroom Colibri (which is hummingbird in Spanish) Villa and when we pulled up in front of it the jungle came alive with several "wows" - even in the dark and from the outside it looked impressive. But when we opened the front door, saw the huge dining room and living area over looking a large covered outdoor patio and infinity pool, all of our jaws dropped. We spread out in several directions to explore our 3000 square foot villa and to find our bedroom. We heard a lot more "wows." What a stunning Villa. We couldn't wait to see it in the daylight. Five minutes after arriving all 13 of us were in the pool and 8 of us had a cold drink in hand! What a way to start our Costa Rica Vacation. It didn't take long for us to develop our first cheer/toast when one of us yelled "Costa" the rest of us, including the grand kids, yelled "Rica" and raised our glasses!
The next morning our jaws were still in the wow position as we explored the Villa - here are just a few highlights:
- a large living, dining and kitchen area with huge windows looking outside with a view of the infinity pool, jungle, and Pacific Ocean
- 5 bathrooms and 4 large bedrooms, all of which had the same magnificent view
- two bedrooms had outdoor showers which are phenomenal: as you step into the open air shower it ignites most of your senses - you smell the local flowers and fruit, as the water showers down on you onto black lava rock it sounds like a rainstorm, and the vibrant blue sky above you is beautiful
- a fully equipped kitchen with everything we needed to cook a gourmet meal, which we never did
- a beautiful infinity pool
- thick lush grass and colorful landscaping of red, yellow,and white flowers
- a covered outdoor patio with soft comfortable outdoor couches and chairs next to the pool
The windows in every room let the outdoors in and made me feel like I was immersed within a tropical forest rich with colorful fauna, wildlife, and dense trees and plants. The furniture in our Villa was upscale and very comfortable, the decorations were beautiful, and there was even daily maid service to clean up our messes! We would wake up each morning with the sun shining, the birds chirping, the monkeys howling, and the surf breaking and we'd jump in the infinity pool with a cup of coffee - just doesn't get much better than that. But best of all may have been the view of the mountains, dense jungle fauna, and the Pacific Ocean less than a half mile in the distance! Click on this link for a virtual tour of Colibri- but be prepared, you'll want to call and make a reservation.
Hotel Punta Islita has three and four bedroom Villas for rent which are a four minute drive from the main part of the Hotel and a couple minutes from the beach bar and pool. Some of the Villas come with a golf cart which makes it easy to get anywhere you want to go on the Hotel premises or you can rent one - much better and more fun than driving your car back and forth. After a few drinks, a pitch dark night, and some women drivers, the cart ride home can get a little hairy and the cart has a strange tendency to run off the cart path!
The infinity pool at our villa was hard to leave and we spend a lot of memorable moments enjoying it. From early morning dips to swimming and horsing around late in the evening. The grand kids had a blast and we had to drag or bribe them to get out of the pool.
In addition to the Villas, there are very upscale and cool rooms to rent - standard, deluxe, junior suite, and casitas - all of which have an open-layout and tiered topography that emphasizes open-spaces and prompts guests to embrace nature and the spectacular surroundings. Most have ocean views, a terrace with a hammock, the suites have a private deck with a whirlpool and the casitas have a plunge pool and a tropical garden All are very well done and nicely appointed.
Hotel Punta Islita Dining
Hotel Punta Islita is loaded with excellent amenities that we enjoyed during our stay. For dining, the open air restaurant (1492 Restaurant) is spectacular with views of an infinity pool, ocean, and jungle.
The 1492 Restaurant showcases the rich textures, vibrant colors, and intense flavors of Costa Rica's culinary traditions. Breakfast is included and offers everything from fresh fruit to pancakes to eggs ranchero - which I had 3 out of 4 days because they were sooooo good!
The lunch and dinner menus are varied with some favorites like fresh seafood, chicken, pasta, and steak as well as some local fare with the traditional rice and beans. All of the meals we had were very good.
Randy and Antonio were superb - they greeted all of us by name, took good care of us, Antonio did tricks for the kids, and they answered all of our questions about the area, amenities, and things to do. Randy overheard us say that it was our grand daughter's birthday and the next morning there was a special birthday pancake and that evening they brought her a birthday cake and gathered the other waiters to sing happy birthday. The staff helped make our stay very special.
The Borrancho Restaurant at the Borrancho Beach Club is also an open air restaurant over looking the beach pool and the swaying palm trees and the Pacific Ocean. You can get everything from burgers to fresh tuna sandwiches to ceviche or pizza and, of course, delicious tropical cocktails.
The only other option for dining is the Playa Islita Restaurant Kinbute which is about 2 minutes from the Borrancho Restaurant just before the small town of Islita. It's a cool setting with tables set under the palm trees and serves some pretty good food and cold beer! The highlight of our dinner here was the whole fried fish - delicious and hilarious to watch my brother eat it! It was here that we came up with our second Costa Rica toast - someone would yell "Pura" and the rest of the table would raise their glasses and respond with "Vida," which is a characteristic Costa Rican phrase that literally means pure life, however, the real meaning is closer to "plenty of life", "full of life", "this is living!", "going great", or "real living."
Amenities at Hotel Punta Islita
Two steps outside the 1492 restaurant is a beautiful infinity pool with the jungle and Pacific Ocean as the backdrop. Part of the pool is Harry's Bar - a swim up bar with delicious margaritas, tropical drinks of the day, and great Pina Coladas! There is also a hot tub next to the bar. This is an adults only pool, so it's peaceful and quiet and a fantastic way to waste away an afternoon.
Our Villa was fantastic and everyone loved spending time in the pool, playing games on the patio, and sipping frozen margaritas (expect for the kids). But we ventured out and spent a lot of time at the Borrancho Beach Club which has the restaurant (our typical lunch spot), a great pool with a swim up bar (Miguel, a fantastic bartender got to know us all and always had the special drink of the day ready for us), hammocks and cabanas and lounge chairs by the beach. Every afternoon we knew where to find my brother - asleep in the hammock!
The beach area is beautiful with black sand, palm trees, crashing waves, and rocky points jutting out into the ocean. The waves were great for body surfing and the water is warm. We had a hard time dragging the kids out of the water. One afternoon, we borrowed some sand wedges and golf balls from the pro shop and set up a four hole course - fun, but I didn't like buying the drinks thanks to my terrible play. I did have one good shot that bounced off a coconut in a tree and landed two feet from the pin! Another miss hit just about bonked a guest on the head resting in a hammock!
Speaking of golf, adjacent to the Beach Club is a nine hole par three course with some fun and demanding holes. The course was in good condition when we played and it requires some shot making skills to hit the postage stamp greens, manage the elevation changes, miss the palm trees, and stay out of the water! None of which I could do, so after our round we were back at the swim up bar where Miguel took my money to pay off my debts with Pina Coladas! Just like the rest of the staff at Hotel Punta Islita, Carlis the head pro at the golf course, was outstanding. He was so happy to see us, had our clubs ready go, pointed out some of the highlights and hazards on the course, and met us on the third and sixth and ninth hole with cold face towels. Here is a link to the review of Punta Islita Golf Course.
A couple of us tried the Casa Spa which offers a wide variety of spa services from body treatments to couples spa rituals (a "romantic celebration of wellness") to several different types of massages to facials and hands and feet treatments. I wish I had gone, after golf, body surfing, and zip lining the old body could have used a good massage. And I wish I had gotten a treatment at the Ranchito Spa at the beach while I listened to the waves breaking in the background and enjoyed a Pina Colada!
Some of the other amenities at Hotel Punta Islita include:
- a well equipped exercise room
- free very fast internet services
- golf carts available for rent to get you around the property or down to the beach or golf course
- room service
- a gift shop with everything from locally made bracelets to shirts and skirts
- tennis courts
- concierges' service and Louis does a great job of taking care of you
- shuttle service to and from the beach or your room or into the small town of Islita
One of the best amenities at Hotel Punta Islita is the wide variety of wildlife - we saw iguanas, monkeys, a small snake that looked just like a branch, huge frogs, colorful crabs, beautiful parrots perched in trees next to our pool, and more.
Activities and Adventures at Hotel Punta Islita
Each day we were up bright and early, took a dip in the pool, and then headed over to 1492 for a delicious free breakfast - what a way to start a day. Breakfast was followed by activities that included: a zipline tour, round of golf, soccer in Islita, time at the beach and beach pool, a spa treatment, and dinner in Islita or 1492. Before hitting the sack, we spent several hours in the pool.
One of the highlights of our stay was the zipline tour - click on the Zip Line Adventure to learn more. The zip lines are just up the hill from the Hotel and they criss cross over a deep ravine and through some dense tropical forest. the guides, like the rest of the Hotel Punta Islita, are excellent. It's a fun ride and a must if you stay at the Hotel. You might also try the twilight zip - we hear it will get your juices flowing.
On Sunday, the small and quaint town of Islita (about 2 minutes from the Hotel) was hosting a soccer tournament so we ventured into town to watch two nearby towns battle it out! The town folks were friendly and invited the grand kids to play soccer with them during the break and Antonio (one of our waiters) was there and he introduced his family, told us where we could buy some beer, and bought an ice cream for the grand kids to share - another example of the Costa Rican hospitality!
The Hotel offers a number of other fun things to see and do, some of which include:
- horseback riding - a two hour ride across fields, through the tropical forest, and along the black sand beaches; a sunset ride; or a longer 4 hour ride up rugged mountain trails with breathtaking views
- torch lit dinner - a romantic three course dinner on the beach
- kayaking - river, mangrove, or a 5 hour kayak through dense vegetated water channels
- surfing - an experienced guide will give you some lessons and take you to the best surfing spots
- monkey quest - set off with a telescope in search of the ever present howler monkeys
- sunset sail - a romantic sail on the peaceful Pacific Ocean
- sport fishing - half or full day fishing trips
Hotel Punta Islita actively encourages the protection of natural resources, the promotion of artistic expression, and preservation of local traditions. For example: 90% of the staff is local, they sponsor complementary education and vocational training for the staff and surrounding community as well as sponsoring a Community Day Care Center and Children's Learning Center, an open air contemporary Art Museum, a sea turtle protection program, and more. The Hotel also offers an Art Project and Cultural Discovery Tour as well as a Costa Rica Cooking Class with the Hotel's head chef.
All too soon it was time to leave and head to the rain forest for the second part of our adventure. We had a fantastic and fun stay at Hotel Punta Islita and our thanks go out to the fantastic staff at Hotel Punta Islita - all of whom contributed to making our stay very special. Thanks Randy, Louis, Miguel, Antonio, Edurado, Vialeo, and Carlis.