"Pura vida !" These are the first words that greet us when we arrive in Costa Rica. This very popular and positive expression translates as "pure life". People use it to welcome tourists, but it is when you discover the many riches of this country that it makes sense.
I left the agitated city of Alajuela, where airport Juan Santamaria is located, to enter what, after a few minutes on the road, looks like an untouched piece of paradise filled with giant green mountains and spectacular panoramic views. The winding roads are part of the adventure, the lush vegetation, almost prehistoric, adorns the sides of the road like driving through botanical gardens. After 90min from the airport, I’m arriving to paradisiacal El Silencio Lodge and Spa.
A tiny valley nestled in between mountains, eco-friendly El Silencio encompasses a huge area filled with rich wildlife and nature. Sustainability and supporting the local community is part of its core. The incredibly welcoming, professional staff greets us with a huge smile… and a refreshing pineapple and peppermint smoothie !
Our secluded, private welcomes us with large couches, a perfect area for lounging and finally catching up on that book in the afternoons. Gazing out of the large picture frame windows, a beautiful balcony overlooks the giant green mountains, which is where we enjoy our first cup of their delicious coffee every morning while watching the hummingbirds fly around. The huge white draped bed is placed in front of large French doors overlooking the valley. The double bathroom includes an eco-friendly shower, but the highlight of the room is an open private jacuzzi surrounded by bamboo. We enjoy it most on evenings as we would be serenaded by the singing of the jungle and the dancing fireflies, truly spectacular.
When it is time to eat, our choice goes towards the traditional Costa Rican restaurant, serving a selection of homely and delicious options prepared with fresh and organic ingredients, most of which are grown on the premises. El Silencio has several trout farms and beautiful rivers fully stocked where they get all of the fish served in the restaurant, some of the freshest and most delicious I have ever had.
Ventanas restaurant (“windows” in English) is situated in the main building. The name is due to large floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking one of the several trout ponds as well as views over a babbling river and manicured grounds with a romantic pagoda for more special occasions. El Silencio offers a delectable selection of lovingly prepared and absolutely delicious gastronomic delights, mixing Costa Rican flavours and fresh produce with international favourites. They also offer a romantic candle-lit dinner, one not to be missed.
The term ‘hotel grounds’ seems to lack scope when talking about such space. Located in a valley surrounded by hills curving up and away on its sides, it is impossible not to immediately feel more relaxed and forget about any worries. Two trails lead to the stunning waterfalls, one of the highlights of Toro Amarillo, the area where El Silencio is located. The “melody trail” is flat and easy, while the “mystery trail” is a bit more challenging but certainly more rewarding : spectacular waterfalls in the middle of jurassic period landscapes, with 125meters of pouring ice cold crystal clear mountain water into the lagoon.
A covered walkway leading to a bridge over the fast-flowing river leads into a selection of manicured gardens. These include a medicinal plants garden, a hummingbird garden, and a small nature trail that leads you to the beautiful spa. The Spa is set in the centre of the gardens in a Balinese style polished wood cluster of buildings giving a sense of calm and relaxation perfect for the treatments on offer.