Escape to Costa Rica

LYSA ALLMAN-BALDWIN | 3/28/2013, 12:26 p.m.
It was about 11 p.m. when we emerged from Customs and met our driver for...
Escape to Costa Rica

And it's the admiration for this distinctive style of lodging that the patriarch of the proprietary Schanz family from Spain desired to inspire. In fact, the lion's share of the works of art and accoutrement here stem from Schanz's private collection, amassed over a 40-year span. It's one of the things that convey such a unique flavor to this Central American paradise.

The Parador features 129 rooms, each one highlighted by a garden, rainforest or ocean view, situated in four buildings situated throughout the property. One building is also accessible by an open-air funicular featuring picturesque ocean views. Guests can choose from Garden and Garden Plus, Tropical, Premium and Premium Plus Rooms, Vista and Vista Pacific Suites, two lavish Vista Master Suites or the Cristobal Colon Presidential Suite with over 1,800 square feet of magnificence. Three breathtaking pools (two of which are adult-only), a fitness center, tennis courts, souvenir shop and full boutique and private rainforest hiking trails span the property.

One of my favorite diversions here was the Pacifica Spa facility, situated on a sloping hillside. Inside this inviting, aromatic two-story structure, you'll find a spa boutique, comfortable manicure and pedicure rooms, men and women's locker rooms, five intimate body treatment rooms, a Jacuzzi and cold plung and a Swiss shower and steam room with the veranda relaxation area overlooking the verdant rainforest just beyond. After spending about three hours there one night for a body scrub and wrap, followed by a one-hour deep-tissue massage, I was greeted in the relaxation area with a complimentary champagne flute filled with yogurt and granola and a delightful fruit plate. It was the perfect end to one of the most memorable experiences I had here.

Dining options at the Parador are plentiful, from the casual Don Juan European-style piano lounge to the Latin-fusion menu-inspired El Quijote, El Galeon for light lunch fare, the Sancho Panza Bar, sushi at Sushi Fune and light and healthy options at the La Fragata Restaurant & Tapas Bar. For a special, intimate occasion for two to 10 guests, opt for the La Reina and their elegant medieval-style dining room.

For me, one of its most meaningful highlights is the wonderful staff: a close-knit group of folks from all over Costa Rica and further afield that regard each other, and their guests, like family. It's palpable in every area and aspect of the resort.

And judging by the multitude of autographed celebrity photos adorning one elongated lobby wall, it's clear that when money is no object, these A-listers chose the Parador. Yet the Parador is very unpretentious, approachable and affordable, with prices ranging from $200 to $600 per night, which includes an outstanding daily breakfast buffet and everything the resort has to offer.

At the activities desk, guests can sign up for off-property zip-lining, parasailing, deep-sea fishing, surfing, white water rafting, horseback riding and other Costa Rican adventures. You can even sign on for a nocturnal rainforest hike on the property (it was amazing!).

In case you missed it, the Parador Resort & Spa offers something for everyone.

More adventures in Costa Rica

In our next sojourn, we manage to tear ourselves away from this hilltop paradise to explore more of Punta Quepos, one of the most beautiful regions of Costa Rica.

Resource List

  • Costa Rica Tourism Board: 011-506-2299-5800,
  • Go Visit Costa Rica: 800-807-6475, 858-581-9209,
  • Parador Resort & Spa: 877-506-1414,

Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for and as a senior travel writer for, an Afrocentric travel website.