Rio Perdido includes 20 bungalows, each with an elevated terrace and a hammock for unwinding. // © 2015 Rio Perdido
Feature image (above): An aerial view of Rio Perdido, located in Guanacaste’s Bagaces region in Costa Rica // © 2015 Rio Perdido
Where the more moderate temperatures of the Rio Blanco meet the warmer waters of Rio Perdido, the water is naturally cool enough for an enjoyable hot springs experience. The crystal-clear water of this thermal bath is located amidst a verdant canyon and volcanic jungle filled with giant rocks, where I end up sitting, paintbrush in hand. Moments later, I am covered in sulfuric mud.
“The volcanic mud is supposed to make you look 10 years younger,” said Rob Harper, business development director for Costa Rican Vacations.
This is just one way guests of Rio Perdido, an eco-friendly hotel and spa in Guanacaste’s Bagaces region in Costa Rica, can get up close and personal with their surroundings.
“All of the Rio Perdido signature activities are not only on-site, they are also all a short walk from guests’ rooms,” said Ignacio Gomez Escobar, general manager of Rio Perdido. “This is part of what makes it so special. It’s all happening in the same place, and there’s no need to get in cars, buses or trucks.”
The property, which opened in late 2013, really does offer an immersive experience. For hikers, Rio Perdido offers five classic hiking circuits with more than 20 miles of cleared trails throughout the 600-acre private reserve. Two trails, Las Tumbas and Mesa Norte, lead to breathtaking lookout points with lush green trees as far as the eye can see.
“There are many different walks that we could tailor,” Gomez said. “There is something for everyone.”
Wellness travelers will not want to miss the carbonated spring near the Las Tumbas trail. When this part of the reserve was owned by a local family, people with gastrointestinal ailments would make visits to the water source. Rio Perdido still keeps the spring accessible to hotel guests who request access. The property also carries out lab tests every few months to note the water’s mineral composition.
For guests who want to get in the water, there’s little better than floating by the river, the canyon as well as local sloths and monkeys while whitewater tubing. There are also three thermo-mineral pools on property with different temperatures, flanked by the two deep canyons on both sides. Guests can also retreat to the pools’ swim-up bars for an afternoon libation.
Costa Rica is famous for its world-class ziplining, and Canyon Adventure at Rio Perdido is truly unique. The child-friendly course uses Deltex cables made of carbon fiber, which serves as a stronger and a more durable alternative to steel that emits practically no sound. The cables do not conduct electricity, so the adventure can operate even during rain showers. Canyon Adventure includes swinging between waterfalls and a walk over a suspension bridge to reach the next platform.
Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of Rio Perdido is its sustainability practices. Currently, the hotel covers less than 1 percent of the total land area. Builders used existing paths to avoid clearing the forest and disrupting flora. The hotel recently placed No. 2 in Cemex Building Award’s Winners XXIII Edition in the category of sustainability, in addition to receiving several other architectural accolades.
When it’s time to unwind, Rio Perdido’s accommodations provide a minimalist design with maximum comfort. There are 20 bungalows on property, each measuring 400 square feet, with elevated terraces and a hammock to unwind. It’s Robinson Crusoe meets simple luxury, complete with free Wi-Fi access and satellite television in the middle of the jungle. Details inside each room include local hardwood and stainless steel.
“These rooms are free-standing bungalows on stilts, akin to something one would typically see over the clear blue and green waters of the Caribbean,” Harper said. “Basically, they’re tree houses with modern, upscale furnishings. The desire was to not disturb any part of the environment, allowing the bungalows to naturally blend in.”
Guests who love their bungalows can even get their breakfasts delivered to their rooms a la carte, though the main restaurant offers a panoramic view from any point. All meals feature fresh food from local farms.
There is also a chic lounge and bar to watch a sports game or grab a cocktail. For an extra special experience, guests can request a dining experience on a floating platform, 160 feet above the river convergence and below the evening sky. At Rio Perdido, it’s just another way of communing with nature.