Experienced by Kimatni and Misa Rawlins
It’s always a perfect occasion to visit Costa Rica. After our first stay five years ago my wife Misa and I knew it was only a matter of time before we returned to the majestic lands of Central America. With so many work obligations and parenting responsibilities to tend to back home in Silver Spring, MD, it is a refreshing delight escaping without our children. This year for our anniversary we chose the Guanacaste region and invited friends who share similar passions in life such as traversing the world.
Since we are platinum members with Starwood the goal was to secure one of their all-inclusive resorts that catered to our needs for this specific journey to paradise. Located in the northeast quadrant of Costa Rica, The Westin Golf Resort & Spa Playa Conchal would become our home away from home for the next six days. In North Guanacaste explorers will enjoy idyllic panoramas of the clear blue Pacific Ocean, natural landscapes, semi-active volcanoes, savannahs, tropical dry forests and national parks where much of the Costa Rican wildlife can be sought by venturing off on a day trip.
We begin the getaway from Washington, Dulles on a United Airlines flight which connected in Houston before leaving for Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport. A rental car from Avis was reserved and caused complications due to undisclosed fees and a higher rental price than first negotiated, but once we handled that scenario it took us about an hour to drive to the resort where heaven on Earth patiently awaited our arrival.
The entire property was similar to a California beach neighborhood where each resident relished his/her condo, suite or small villa. Even the cobblestoned paths were named like streets and avenues. I was in awe of the fresh vegetation including mango and banyan trees, a small pond outside our building, the majestic adult pool replete with a swim-up bar, a multitude of restaurants, Westin Workout Center, Westin Kids Club, the Wellness Spa and of course Playa Conchal’s very own Conchal Beach which seduces with its pristine white sand curated from little crushed shells. Moreover, the sounds of various birds and insects was delightful and kept in tune with the naturalistic environs of Costa Rica. Also, I aesthetically appreciated the omnipresent teepee theme of the main lobby and some of the eateries.
Our superior abode on the Royal Beach Club side of the resort teased us during the entire stay. Before you enter the quarters a miniature rainforest and waterfall grabs your attention to notify you that Costa Rica is omnipresent. The deluxe suite was as opulent as it gets featuring two full baths — one of which is the size of the bedroom with dual showers and dual sinks — a Bose Sound Link Mini and sliding doors in both the living room and master bedroom that leads to the extensive patio which in turn hosts a bathing tub. Westin Hotels are infamous for their Heavenly Beds so best believe we rested like newborns each night. Furthermore, the cuisine was impeccable. Each morning our butler made sure fresh fruit smoothies were prepared and delivered before we hit the gym or the trails. Remember, vacation is to relax the mind not the body. Bamboo turned out to be our favorite dinner place since it offered the most veggie options.
With so many exciting things to do on property it was difficult venturing offsite to see the rest of the eco-friendly area. But that’s exactly what we did. Out first destination was a visit to the beach town of Tamarindo. The Westin offers round trip service for $20 during the day and $25 by night, but of course we had our own vehicle. Here is where you experience musical vibrations, extended nightlife, surfing activities and endless places to wine and dine. We chose Sprout for the afternoon meal and were all graciously satisfied. There is something about Costa Rican bean and veggie tacos that I couldn’t get enough of. Additionally we dined Papaya for fresh greens, beans, brown rice and veggie tofu scramble. Then you have the all vegan La Cuchara Verde which sends messages of love, health and peace. No matter where we land the goal is to secure foods that energize, enliven and strengthen. As Misa poignantly stated, “Another day, another adventure in Costa Rica. The vegan food here is ridiculously delicious….oh man oh man, yummy in my tummy!”
Costa Rica is about the size of West Virginia and consists of more than 970 species of birds like the hummingbird that can fly backwards. Pineapple is their number one export, not coffee. Farmers also produce and grow cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon and sugarcane. A partnership with the Westin allowed us to see more sights by way of Swiss Travel. From white water rafting, to zip lining to various nomadic adventures there are a plethora of activities to fulfill your heart’s desires. While the ladies sunbathed at the pool Eric and I scheduled the ATV tour with our guide Bernal Jaen Santana who escorted us to Playa Brasilito, the Pedregosa area, a host of beaches and around the jungle to integrate with the congo monkeys.
Next up was the half-day Palo Verde National Park and river boat tour where we learned all about the mighty crocodile, some of the migrating birds species and a few of the 144 classes of snakes (no anacondas or pythons here). Palo Verde become a National Park in 1972 and protects 23,000 acres of land. It was fascinating witnessing the commingling of life in this natural habitat.
I’m Happy. The amazing perspective received when vacationing with your spouse is the rekindled awareness of love, deep conversations and silent moments of eye contact which collectively strengthen you as a couple. Costa Rica showed me how much I have and how important Misa Rawlins is to me as a wife, mother and best friend. Every moment together adds to the constellation of our shared history and ultimately makes us stronger as a team. Pura Vida!