Sur de Uvita, Costa Rica
Cristal Ballena is located adjacent to Ballena Marine National Park along Costa Rica's southern Pacific coast, just south of Dominical. The 4-star boutique hotel is surrounded by 30 acres of tropical gardens, set on a hillside between the sea and rain forest backdrop. The location affords fabulous ocean views and dramatic sunsets, with cooling breezes off the jungle-draped mountains behind. Airy, Mediterranean-style suites offer spacious accommodations in a tranquil setting, with magnificent views from private balconies accented with plants. Each suite incorporates decor made from natural materials and is fully furnished with a four-poster bed draped with a gauzy canopy, sitting area with large desk, private bathroom, air conditioning plus ceiling fan, satellite television, Wi-Fi, telephone, mini bar, safe and coffeemaker. A full breakfast buffet is served each morning at the Pura Vida restaurant and bar, located outdoors on the covered terrace next to the 1,300-square-foot swimming pool. Lunch and dinner, featuring local and international cuisine, is also served here or in the fully air-conditioned Salon Cristal. The Spa Cristal offers a full range of treatments inspired by Costa Rica's natural environs, including chocolate, papaya and marine wraps, coffee scrubs, hot stone massages, facials and more. Rain forest hiking paths leave from the hotel grounds, and Uvita Beach, famous for its whale-tail shape, is accessible via a relatively short walk down to the shoreline.