Alma Del Pacifico is a colorful boutique property located on an uncrowded beach in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast. // © 2014 Alma Del Pacifico Beach Hotel & Spa
Finding that Costa Rica’s hotels stylistically resembled the properties of South Florida and the Caribbean, architect Sherrill Broudy and his wife Charlene, an artist, set out to create a property that would express the unique style of Costa Rica.
The result is Alma Del Pacifico Beach Hotel & Spa: a 20-villa property and community characterized by its artistic representation of the surrounding natural environment. The use of open spaces and simple materials including wood and concrete seem to bring the outdoors in, while boldly painted walls, doors, furniture and sculptures take their cue from Alma’s lush foliage, especially the hydroconias planted around the property. In some guest villas, the wooden ceiling curves like a wave, framing a dome-shaped, floor-to-ceiling window that leads to a deck, a personal plunge pool and a private panoramic view of Playa Esterillos Este, a truly unspoiled stretch of coastline along Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast.
Half of the villas, as well as the hotel’s alfresco restaurant, were built in front of the ocean, only a few steps away from the sand. The coastline here seems to stretch like Riviera Nayarit or Riviera Maya, but with a few notable exceptions: no crowds, no high-rises — no annoyances.
“You wake up 20 feet away from the surf, but what’s even better is that you are in a very private place,” said Fernando Alfaro, general manager of Alma Del Pacifico. “It feels as though you have the whole beach to yourself.”
Smooth black sand offers a unique reflective surface for epic sunset viewing and, during the day, the beach offers plenty to do if you’re not venturing off property, swimming at one of the hotel’s pools or enjoying a spa treatment. I learned how to surf, went for a run and even horseback rode at sunrise — all without the pressure of having other people around.
The fact that the resort sprawls out on this uncongested stretch of the Pacific Ocean is enough of a lure for some, but Alma is a destination resort for other reasons. After two stints with corporate hotel groups — first Xandari and then Rock Resorts — the property and surrounding land is owned and managed by Del Pacifico, a local development company.
As a result, the local feeling of the property is unquestionable. Alfaro, the general manager, also happens to be co-owner, but you wouldn’t know it by his involvement and enthusiasm — and guests don’t seem to either. Throughout the day, they come up to him asking about arranging horseback riding trips and the like, even offering tips for his service.
He has had a hand in nearly everything, often putting his culinary training to use in the Mosaic Restaurant’s kitchen, where he has helped create several of the locally-sourced dishes, such as the pescado entero, a red snapper, which is served in the authentic Tico style: whole fish with bones.
Alfaro has even married 12 couples at the property — all of whom are still married, he is proud to point out. The property is the ideal size for couples who want to book an entire property for their wedding but ensure that they still can have alone time.
“Alma isn’t just an exotic beach resort — it’s a private paradise for travelers,” he said. “Our resort can be fully booked, and yet guests will always have their privacy.”
Another reason guests return is because of the staff’s high retention rate. All of the 42 staff members are locals and, on average, have worked at the property for four years.
There’s no automated, engineered politeness in the service and the staff’s sense of humor made me feel like I was staying at a friend’s house (a friend who had a huge, ocean-front villa to spare).
Sherrill Broudy, who is now in his 90s, still returns to Alma with his wife for their getaways.
“It’s their favorite place on the beach,” Alfaro said.
It’s hard to imagine Alma’s combination of architecture, art and nature existing anywhere else — especially the Caribbean or South Florida.
Fast Facts About Alma Del Pacifico
Travel Agent Discount
The regional Quepos Airport is about 16 miles from Alma. The closest international airport is Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in Alajuela, which is about 68 miles away and a 90-minute drive from the property.
Clients can hire a transfer from SJO (approximately $165 for up to six people) or rent a car at the airport and self-drive. Alma can set up car rentals for guests and recommends that clients get a GPS to go with the car rental.
With so many activities easily arranged on property, some clients will be happy to stay onsite. On the other hand, Alma Del Pacifico is situated approximately, and ideally, in between Jaco, a popular surf town, and Manual Antonio National Park, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.
The property sells a variety of packages for guests, or clients can mix and match their own set of excursions. Popular activities include surf lessons, hiking and catamaran riding through Manual Antonio National Park, whitewater river rafting, ziplining, horseback riding on the beach and snorkeling.
Who Should Stay Here?
The property is ideal for adrenaline junkies, eco-travelers, surfers, honeymooners and destination wedding parties.