Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort is in the interior of Costa Rica, where active travelers
flock to the Arenal National Park for both its volcano-warmed thermal waters
and adventure, including aerial tram rides, zip line canopy descents, Hanging
Bridges treks, plus hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and ATV rentals. Easily
accessible via a half-hour flight from San
Jose by way of NatureAir (506-299-6000), the three-hour drive is worth it to
arrive at the extraordinary, eco-spa experience at Tabacón’s recently
reconstructed and reopened spa.

Tabacón—a word that names a plant and a river, as well as
the hotel, resort and spa complex—is a member of The Leading Hotels of the
World. This winter, its spa was recognized with membership in Leading Spas of
the World, the only one in Central America. A
gated entry leads to the 114-room boutique hotel, where accommodations are
grouped in a cluster of buildings: one is adjacent to the lobby area, while
another (the 300 building) offers the only living room/bedroom/private Jacuzzi
and garden suite (#300) and is closer to the pool and Los Tucanes Restaurant.
Deluxe accommodations are in the newer two-story 700 building, where
window-walls lead to a balcony or terrace from both the bedroom and oversized
bathroom (and a picture window, when uncovered, faces the glass-mosaic tiled
tub). For reservations, call 877-277-8291; Sales Director Zuley Herrera can be
reached at
or 506-460-2020.

A picture-perfect river—complete with hot springs and
waterfalls—flows through the adjacent thermal resort, offering about twenty
mineral pools, plus swimming pools, a bar and a restaurant (Ave del Paraiso)
for both hotel guests (who enjoy unlimited access) and day guests (who pay a
$55 daily entrance fee).

The expansive Tabacón Grand Spa, which features mineral
pools, is completely private to guests with spa appointments. Under the
direction of Director General Uwe Wagner, who can be reached at 506-460-2020 or
the sprawling spa has been completely reconstructed using predominately
indigenous products, such as roofs lined with local caña brava (it looks like
bamboo), lighting within volcanic rocks and limestone bathroom accessories.

The open-to-nature spa experience is very personal: A valet
escorts guests from the reception area to the locker room, to the multi-level
lounge (with its curved walls, arches, hot tub) and to meet the therapists.
They guide clients along curved slate paths to one of eleven thatched roof
pavilions, each with its own Jacuzzi tub and its own verdant, secluded spot. It
features back-to-basics elements such as volcanic mud, which is washed off
under a waterfall; clever design, such as a sloping spiral leading into the
Watsu pool next to its waterfall; and indigenous rituals, such as a foot bath
in a hollowed-out wooden bowl. A Yoga pavilion and a shaman who performs the
ancient Temazcal ritual and Native American weddings add authenticity.

By Irvina Lew
Travel Agent Central