Stephanie Holmes checks into Arenal Manoa Hotel, in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.
In La Fortuna, a small town a few hours north of capital San Jose, known as the gateway to the Arenal Volcano national park.
Getting there: I was travelling with G Adventures, getting a preview of their new wellness itineraries that begin in June. We were travelling in a loop from San Jose, taking in La Fortuna, as well as the Rincon de la Vieja National Park and the beautiful beaches of the Pacific coast. All transport and accommodation was taken care of as part of the itinerary.
First impressions: It's like a tropical oasis, in the shadow of an active volcano.
Check in experience: Easy. Our CEO (chief experience officer, aka tour guide), Noe, had travelled ahead of our group while we visited the nearby Mistico Hanging Bridges attraction — a rainforest walk that takes you high into the canopy via a series of suspension bridges. Noe had taken care of check-in, had our suitcases sent to our rooms, so we just needed to pick up our keys. Smooth as flowing lava.
Room: A beautiful chalet-style, spacious suite with twin double beds, and deck with rocking chairs set among the well-tended tropical gardens, looking out to Arenal volcano (if it's not obscured by clouds, as it often can be, this being the tropics and all). The tiled floor, wood accents and high ceiling gave an airy, cool feel and that view can't be beaten.
Bathroom: Huge, fully tiled and feels like it's part of the outdoor tropical garden, with large yuccaplants growing from a plant bed.
Bed: High, firm but with a memory foam top that lets you just sink into it. From the bed, I could see out to the volcano, as well as Costa Rican national birds flitting between the flowers.
Facilities: This is a hot springs resort, so there's a geothermal outdoor pool onsite, complete with swim-up bar and volcano views. As I had an afternoon soak I watched a toucan fly back and forth between two trees in the rainforest surrounding the resort. Stunning. The springs are open until 10.30pm so you can have a post-dinner soak and nightcap, which is the greatest way to end an evening. There's also a restaurant and spa.
Yoga classes are included as part of the G Adventures wellness itinerary, and our class here was wonderful — including vinyasa flow, followed by mediation and "sound bathing" using Tibetan singing bowls. These classes are not included for regular hotel guests, just G Adventures groups; a special treat.
Food and drink: A complimentary buffet breakfast was included, and it was great with standard breakfast fare, plus Costa Rican favourites such as rice and beans and fried plantain in syrup. Lots of fresh tropical fruits, too.
Wi-fi: Free, fast and available throughout the resort.
Noise: Rooms are semi-detached, and I could hear my neighbours through the bathroom walls — one of whom seemed to have a stomach bug, which I'm sure was unpleasant for them, but was also very unpleasant to overhear. The mini-bar fridge was incredibly loud and annoying.
What's so good about this place: The proximity to Arenal Volcano and all the adventure activities in the area; the lush gardens, surrounded by tropical rainforest, the hot springs.
And the bad: Bathrooms could do with some sound-proofing. Other than that, I would have been very happy to stay for a few more nights.
Perfect for: A relaxing stay as part of a wellness-focused trip.