Monday, May 7, 2018

El Mangroove Hotel, Autograph Collection, Costa Rica

I visited Costa Rica for the first time, and absolutely loved it! I stayed at the beautiful & relaxing destination resort, El Mangroove Hotel, Autograph Collection. Located in Panama Beach, Gulf of Papagayo, El Mangroove is not only stunning, but beyond relaxing. They have an amazing pool, spa, and private beach. Not to mention, every night there is a breathtaking sunset beachside.

I spent three amazing nights here. The hotel is located in a beautiful rainforest, in the providence of Guanacaste. Located on the Pacific coast, El Mangroove Hotel has an amazing private beach with black sand. Here, you can view the sunsets that range from yellow skies, to fabulous pinks, to lavender. 

El Mangroove Hotel is a quick 20 minute ride form Liberia International Airport, and ideally located near various National Parks in Guanacaste, and is just 15 minutes from the artsy and bustling town of El Coco, which has over 25 different restaurants and bars.

On the way to the hotel, the driver pointed out Costa Rica's active volcanos, and informed me that there were nine of them. I actually had no idea that there were even volcanos there, let alone active ones, and let alone nine of them! 

When I first arrived to the hotel, I admired the gorgeous driveway that leads to the hotel's outdoor lobby. I was greeted by this gorgeous tree (that looks like it's straight out of a movie- see below), a very friendly staff, and delicious fresh squeezed lemonade and cold hand towels. It is very hot in Costa Rica, so these were much appreciated. 

The first thing I did, is what I always do when I arrive at any destination- find food. I ate at Matiss, El Mangroove's poolside restaurant. I ordered veggie poke bowls with seaweed salad and a veggie cheese pizza. My favorite part of the menu is actually the fresh juice/smoothie section. They have sooo many delicious smoothies and juices, I tried almost all of them throughout my trip. (The "Vitamin C Juice" with passion fruit and orange juice was probably my favorite!)

The hotel offers outdoor and water activities as well. I didn't get the chance to paddle board, but I know it would have been fun! You can enjoy rafting, hiking, sailing, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and surfing, amongst other activities, within a short distance from the resort. Natural wonders such as Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and the iconic Río Celeste “a blue volcanic river” and thermal mineral pools are just a short drive away.

Since I love animals, one of the coolest parts about the hotel, is that are small black monkeys in the trees that come out early in the morning and right before sunset to eat. I have never seen a wild monkey before, and they are so cute! They were just a few feet right above my head, and I could see them from my bedroom window. I love the wildlife at the hotel, it's definitely a plus to those seeking adventure. There are many birds, lizards, and monkeys on and around the property.

All of the suites are bohemian chic. The suites are so unique and I loved the hammock in the living room area. I stayed in a "Bark Suite". The living room area and bedroom are separated by a sliding glass door. The bedroom is air conditioned, and the living room area has a screen that is always open. Making it as if you're outside relaxing (minus the bugs). It was amazing and therapeutic to lay in the hammock and listen to all of the birds chirping- I miss that hammock!

The sunsets were seriously unbelievable. The beach was so quiet, it felt really spiritual being there until the sun was completely below the horizon.

Between taking photos, I spent most of my time tanning by the pool and eating. Two of my favorite things ever. There wasn't a time when I did not feel relaxed at El Mangroove Hotel. 

The spa was another great experience. I had a "Bliss" massage, and enjoyed every second of it. The staff at every part of the hotel is extremely friendly and helpful. You can choose a massage indoors, or outdoors. The outdoor area (see below) is a page out of heaven and is beyond relaxing. It is also very private, with curtains to keep your privacy, but sheer enough to enjoy the outdoors.

Catarata Llanos de Cortés Waterfall

On my last full day, I decided to go on an excursion. I love going on adventures when I travel, and I always like to see more of the country that I am in.

I went on a private tour that stopped at two different waterfall locations. Alan, at the hotel's concierge was extremely helpful and helped me book the trip. There are so many things to do in Costa Rica, so I highly recommend speaking to someone who knows the area and can direct you to the tour that fits your best interests.

The first stop was to Catarata Llanos de Cortés Waterfall. The tour begins with a 15 minute hike down stairs to a gorgeous (and very large) waterfall. It is very safe, I just recommend taking your time downhill. It is totally worth it, trust me. 

The waterfall was huge and the first thing I noticed were the groups of yellow butterflies fluttering around. I have never seen so many butterflies together before, it was so beautiful. 

There is a smaller waterfall nearby, and I went over to see that one as well. The smaller one is more deserted, and I got to see a wild baby owl in a tree, and two baby (and quite loud) monkeys. The guide who worked at the park said that he feeds them bananas sometimes. 


The second stop, and the best stop, was to a private farm located in Fortuna called, Adventure La Giganta. It was about an hour away from the first waterfall. Fortuna is the countryside and believe it or not I love farms so I was super excited about this excursion. Since I was on a private tour, I had so much time to spend taking pictures without anyone else around me, which is ideal being a blogger.

Adventure La Giganta is a very large (over 150 acres) privately owned farm that has many animals, including hundreds of cows that produce milk for locals. There is also a beautiful private waterfall two miles uphill that is totally worth the hike.

On the way up to the farm, we passed one of the largest volcanos (see above), so I had to stop and take a picture in front of it! The tour guide said there hasn't been any activity since the 1960's.  

After I spent time with the baby cows, we began our hike. It was at least two miles uphill, but totally beautiful. The owner guided us to the top (where the waterfall is located), and told us of all of the wild life he's seen before on previous hikes. He showed me pictures of the wild life that he's seen such as sloths and gigantic snakes! Luckily, I did't encounter any snakes. 

The countryside in Costa Rica is really amazing because the people who live there still use horses as transportation. I think that is amazing, it's like stepping back in time. As much as I love technology, it's always great to take a break and see what it was like before phones. 

We finally reached the waterfall after about thirty five minutes, and I have never seen anything so beautiful and natural! It was almost like it was never touched by man. This waterfall is private, so very few people have swam in this clear pool of water. 

Now, this was like a scene from a movie. In fact, on the hike there, we were all saying how much the land reminded us of the movie Jumanji. The water was cool and refreshing, and not deep at all. What really struck my attention, were the giant (and I mean giant) blue butterflies flying around the waterfall. They were so magical, like the kind of butterflies that are so pretty you see in cartoons. I will forever remember being surrounded by them while standing in the clear water.

Thank you again El Mangroove Hotel for such an unforgettable stay. I will have these memories and photos forever! I truly understand Costa Rica's meaning of "Pura Vida" now.

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