Marriott Hotels always have an uncanny knack of securing the best locations in cities in which to build their hotels. Case in point is Costa Rica Marriott Hotel Hacienda Belen: less than a 10-minute drive from Juan Santamaría International Airport yet it still feels like an oasis of calm being situated on a 30-acre coffee plantation. It also helps to keep their occupancy high that they are situated close to many multinational offices such as Intel.
The hotel was built in 1996 but the style harks back to an 18th-century hacienda with European architecture adapted with Latin American flair. The distinctive yellow colour of the building is a nod to colour of the national museum of Costa Rican history. There are plenty of incredible historic artworks spread throughout the building to admire, such as the painting of The Four Angels in La Isabela restaurant, which was brought over from Spain at the beginning of the century. There are also antique coffee mill and pre-Columbian funeral urns on display making the hotel an important museum as well as a place for accommodation.
Their rooms are relatively spacious with a minimum of 323 sq ft and gorgeous terrace views of either the pool or the mountain. The mural behind the bed is, unsurprisingly, of coffee plants. They offer an extremely comfortable pillow top mattress, featherbed that makes the sleeping experience even more sumptuous and a cosy duvet. Complimentary bottled water is always handy in the warmer climates of Costa Rica but what is even handier is if you opt for the rooms with executive lounge access. Offering a full American breakfast from 5am to 10am, snacks from 10am to 5.30pm and a light dinner from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, the executive lounge also provides complimentary non-alcoholic beverages as well as clothes pressing (up to two garments per stay).
There is no shortage of dining options with at least five to choose from at the hotel, not including the executive lounge, and a few very decent restaurants including a fine Italian one, a mere five-minute walk from the hotel. If you had to pick a restaurant to try, I would recommend their signature restaurant, Hacienda Kitchen to try their authentic Costa Rican cuisine using recipes that have been handed down throughout the generations.
Ceviche is a huge part of the Costa Rican diet and there are numerous options available here including a vegetarian version using grilled portobello mushrooms. However, nothing quite beats the classic variety using white fish, onion, coriander, pepper marinated with lemon and served with corn, sweet potato, and cancha corn. One thing to note is they do tend to serve rather large chunks of fish for their ceviche as opposed to the European variety, so make sure you have a healthy appetite before picking this as a starter. If this has whet your appetite for seafood, then do try their seafood platter main course which contains an abundance of aquatic wonders including shrimps, mussels, octopus and white fish served with garlic, white wine and Pomodoro sauce on a bed of white rice.
There is no excuse not to keep fit at this hotel with a 24 hours, seven days a week gym, tennis courts, jogging trails and thermotherapeutic pools that have varying temperatures to help boost blood circulation and improve the production of endorphins.
One of the top highlights outside of the hotel is a coffee tour at Café Britt, which is only a short drive away and they can arrange a pick-up from the hotel. Café Britt is one of the biggest success stories of Costa Rica and has been providing premium gourmet coffee for over 30 years. The tours themselves have been running since 1991 but it is still a surprise the banter between the two guides is as slick as anything on Saturday Night Live. There are plenty of Spanglish jokes but throughout the experience, it is informative as well as entertaining.
They guide you through the life cycle of gourmet coffee from the nursery through the growing cycle to harvest and selection of the finest beans. You get to understand why the varied terroir in Costa Rica, especially with the presence of volcanic soil, helps to create such a popular coffee product across the globe. You learn about roasting techniques as well as sampling a variety of coffee from different regions plus they also have a cafe area offering a wide selection of local dishes buffet style.
In a nutshell
If you are looking for a base closer to the city centre and airport to explore the more urban side of Costa Rica, Marriott Hotel Hacienda Belen is just the place for you.
Rooms can be booked from £132 pppn.
Address: 700 Meters West From Bridgestone/Firestone La Ribera De, Heredia Province, Heredia, 40703, Costa Rica
Phone: +506 2298 0000