At a Glance
A restorative resort in the Costa Rican countryside, Hacienda AltaGracia offers a well-rounded experience complete with adventurous activities and a spa by The Well.
- The lush setting, with 180 acres that includes rain forest, waterfalls and abundant flowering shrubs
- The stunning spa pool, set in a soaring glass atria
- The warm and gracious staff
- The strong sense of place
When Auberge Resorts Collection decided to open their first retreat in Costa Rica, they wanted something that would embrace both wellness and adventure. In November 2021, they relaunched the newly renovated Hacienda AltaGracia, a 180-acre property in the foothills of the Talamanca mountains, south of San José, with a spa by The Well. Every day at the resort, you are immersed in natural beauty. You might spend your morning hiking to a waterfall or exploring the rain forest with a naturalist, following winding trails past towering ferns and banks of blossoming orchids, punctuated by rainbow eucalyptus trees, their trunks striped with lime green and orange and long curls of bark. Everywhere on the property is color and life: the swoop of birds, the layers of green hills cut through with a gently curving road that weaves amid the scarlet bougainvillea, pink hibiscus and drifts of golden lilies. There’s an extravagance to the natural beauty, from the sheer height and width of the trees to the rancho by the family pool, festooned with long strands of dangling white orchids gently swaying in the sun.
Hacienda AltaGracia encompasses just 50 casitas, along with two restaurants, three pools and a stable. Casitas feel like private villas. The Casona con Piscina, for instance, is 1,800-square-feet and has a private plunge pool and outdoor terrace. The rooms are spread quite far apart, which brings a sense of privacy but also means that it might be a 15-minute walk down a steep hill from your room to the main area with the pools and restaurant. Each room is assigned a compa, who serves as a guest liaison and is happy to collect you in a golf cart to give you rides, in case of inclement weather. There is a tremendous warmth and friendliness of the staff.
The food is fresh and healthy, with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. The chefs are a young couple from South African Winelands; the wife is a vegetarian, the husband loves meat. This leads to an interesting menu that can accommodate a range of tastes.
Atop a hillside is the Well Spa. The facility is stunning, with Casa de Agua, an indoor pool with floor-to-ceiling windows, gorgeous views and a tropical ambience. There are multiple treatment rooms, spacious changing areas with sauna and steam and an excellent spa director. Morning yoga is offered outside under a rancho, near a burbling stream. Wellness activities include meditation, forest bathing and a hot tub by the river, as well as integrative energy work, reiki, and craniosacral therapy. Note that spa treatments are surprisingly expensive ($360 for a 90-minute massage). The therapists, while eager to please, are not as seasoned as you would expect, given the high prices.
There are lots of activities on-property, from mountain biking and hiking to cultural experiences. Those seeking adrenaline might rope in and climb up a 100-foot tree to rest in a hammock atop the forest canopy, then belay down. There is also a very authentic excursion on horseback from the on-property stables to a nearby farm that grows sugarcane. You learn about how the sugarcane is boiled and pressed, and then you have an al fresco lunch. Further afield, you can visit Tortuguero National Park or the Osa Peninsula and Caño National Park.
Room and board are included in the rate, as well as daily complimentary experiences, such as yoga, nature walks and culinary workshops. Activities, spa and wellness treatments are extra.
Who Should Stay
Families will find a wide range of activities to suit different tastes. Those with younger children or mobility issues should be mindful that the property is very spread out and on a steep hillside, although golf cart rides are available from the staff. Spa aficionados looking for the type of highly structured fitness experience typical of some destination spas (yoga, Pilates, TRX, Barre) should understand that the range of classes is currently limited. There isn’t yet a steady stream of daily classes on offer. This will change as the spa gets more established.
Fly to San José and then take the hotel’s Kodiak on a 25-minute flight to land either directly on the property’s grass airstrip or on the tarmac at San Isidro, about a half-hour drive away, depending on weather. (Between May and December, you must arrive by midday to be able to make the connection if you want to avoid overnighting in San José). It is important to note that if your flight is canceled due to inclement weather, such as heavy fog, the alternative is a drive on a windy road up and over a mountain pass that takes four to five hours. This is more likely during the rainy season, which lasts from May to November.
Written by Eliza Harris