In the gated community of Hacienda Pinilla, this luxury resort is centered around a 25,000-square-foot infinity pool that merges with a short stretch of beach in the west, making every sunset a major event. Quiet elegance is the theme at this hacienda-style hotel, with charming traditional touches such as painted oxcarts piled high with towels around the pool and macramé fringed hammocks draped off the lobby. Rooms are all superluxurious, with sybaritic bathrooms, sumptuous
sage- and cream-colored linens, and private terraces with ceiling fans and removable bug screens. For grown-ups, there's a 24-hour fitness center; the 18-hole, 72-par Hacienda Pinilla golf course; and an exquisite, full-service spa with 19 massage huts. There's also a kids' club for families. The on-site restaurants, including a handsome, ranch-style Costa Rican steak house and a more intimate Asian restaurant, are gorgeous, but the prices are sky-high and the food quality inconsistent. Although the beach in front of the hotel is small and rocky, you can access Playa Avellanas from the Hacienda Pinilla Beach Club where waves break right out front. There's a daily shuttle van to Tamarindo's shops and restaurants, and if you have your own car, you can drive the short distance to Playa Negro and Playa Avellanas for less pricey meals.