We’ve all been there, wondering if we fit into a certain environment. That is exactly how I felt when we approached our stay at The Retreat, Costa Rica with some trepidation. Am I the right age group, the right sex, the right level of fitness and body shape for this renowned wellness resort and spa? With the promise of two complimentary yoga sessions daily, I did wonder if I could transform my creaky limbs into Jane Fonda levels of athleticism.
The first thing to note is The Retreat is a mere 40 minutes drive from San Jose International Airport, yet, you are about as far away from the hustle and bustle of airport life as imaginable being situated near the top of a lush, crystal quartz mountain with an endless array of greens and blues to soothe those tired city eyes.
The mastermind behind The Retreat is Diana Stobo, a celebrity chef, raw food enthusiast and generally an all-round industry leader in the wellness industry. Her touches are evident throughout the whole resort from the feng shui-friendly designs that respect the natural surroundings to the organic food that proves healthy food can also be mouthwatering.
There are 13 rooms in total and all of them exude calm and serenity with either white-washed or pastel-coloured walls that are easy on the eye, and a four-poster king bed with plush bedding that guaranteed undisturbed nights of sleep during our stay. It did also help that we had no phone or television in our room. The toiletries are all-natural and organic focusing on local fruits and flowers, so they had a papaya tangerine body wash, ylang-ylang shampoo and a peppermint conditioner.
Their organic, farm-to-fork concept is surprisingly appealing; Diana’s recipes show that eating healthily doesn’t mean just eating bland, tasteless food. They cook wholesome food that doesn’t use gluten, dairy or refined sugars and approximately 80% of the ingredients are grown on the grounds of the resort. Vegan options and raw choices are well-catered for, but the kitchen never comes across as restrictive in terms of portion size or not allowing meat or seafood. They operate an open kitchen where you can walk in and discuss with the chefs what they are prepping.
Meals are all-inclusive at The Retreat with breakfast served buffet style. There are hearty offerings like poached eggs with vegetables and Hollandaise sauce, tropical fruit platters including the likes of papaya and watermelon, and healthy desserts like chia pudding with coconut milk and mango and raspberry sauce. Lunch is also a buffet affair that offers a green salad bar with tasting homemade dressings and a non-vegetarian hot dish accompanied with two sides. Dinner is a gourmet three-course affair where protein is always key, matched with a mouthwatering dressing of cooked vegetables and unprocessed grains such as quinoa. A typical dish would be trout with lavender-infused mashed potatoes, carrots, rocket and marinated mushrooms.
The real pièce de résistance is their Vida mía spa which recently opened at a new building at the end of last year and is widely regarded as the best spa in the Americas. It is perched on top of a highly vibrational crystal mountain. There is the meditation deck, gratitude lounge, plus café and tea bar, an extremely relaxing swimming pool with swings and arguably the most stupendous views of the nearby valleys and mountains in the whole resort. They have treatments ranging from the most traditional to the state-of-the-art and ones using local specialities like a heated volcanic clay bath and forest bathing treatment. We tried the four-hands ayurvedic massage which was an extraordinarily relaxing, body-cleansing experience. With the steady rhythm and pressure, no doubt this treatment helped to improve our blood circulation and general skin well-being.
Take part in a daily late morning hike through the grounds of the estate and beyond, crossing through places such as The Retreat’s farm and coffee plantations. My recommendation is to strap on your hiking boots and bring your walking poles as the trek can get quite steep.
There is a flow yoga class at 8am and a restorative yoga class at 4pm, both are offered on a complimentary basis and even if you are not a yoga master, like myself, I would highly recommend going along as they cater for all levels and the yoga teachers are extremely accommodating.
In a nutshell
For a wellness retreat that genuinely relaxes your body, mind, and soul without being preachy or forceful, this is the ideal city escape to recharge those batteries.
Rooms can be booked from £311.
Address: Barrio Jesús de Atenas, Alajuela Province, Atenas, Costa Rica
Phone: +506 8947 0707