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costaricalover Aug 8th, 2010 02:10 PM

Xandari, Ylang Ylang and Finca Rosa Blanca-WOW!
Just returned from a short one week's stay in Costa Rica. I have never visited in green season before (usually go in February) and weather was not an issue. Usually we had glorious sunny mornings followed by some cloud cover in the afternoon, and refreshing showers overnight. Also, the temperature was much more comfortable by the coast (cooler) than February.

Xandari-July 28th
Ylang Ylang Resort - July 29th-August 3rd
Finca Rosa Blanca- August 3rd
(Finca Rosa Blanca was the one new place we had never been to before and we were absolutely enchanted!)

Xandari Resort Alajuela
Our second time staying at this unique boutique hotel and we were more impressed than the first time. We were upgraded to a Prima Plus Villa (#24) that had a breathtaking view over the city, a private balcony, and semi-outdoor open shower and jacuzzi. Villa 24 is closer to the spa area, so more removed from the main building. Because we are walkers, this was a plus, just got to experience those luscious floral walkways more! I have never seen so many beautiful flowers, and flower-like specimens! The air was so incredibly fragrant with sweetness, earth, and moss. Whenever I go to Costa Rica, I look forward to that familiar smell!

When we were at Xandari, we had some refreshing afternoon rain. We decided to check out the new infinity pool and hot tub. The pool overlooks the city and is a wonderful shape for doing laps or just gazing out over the view. We were literally in the clouds when we were in the pool (eerie but beautiful) and will never forget that feeling. Almost like being in the cloud forest in Monteverde in a way. Awesome.

Dinner was much better than our last trip and we found the staff to be incredibly warm and helpful. The sea bass was excellent, and the wine was priced very reasonably. The view from the restaurant was lovely, and I loved the scale of the restaurant-not too big,very intimate.

We woke up at 5:45 the next morning and took one of the trails down to the waterfalls. The climb down was very steep and very long, which means we worked for our breakfast on the way up! It was just as beautiful as I remember.

We had the opportunity of meeting the owner of Xandari (he's an architect) and designed the resort himself. His wife is an artist and has created most of the art you see hanging on the walls and many of the outdoor sculptures. We had a great talk with him about Xandari and Costa Rica.

So, we have a 10:15 flight to catch to Tambor and we are shuttled off to the airport. We have chosen Sansa this time. To be continued...

qwovadis Aug 9th, 2010 05:08 AM

nice report thanks for posting...

ShellD Aug 9th, 2010 05:28 AM

Great report so far! We were at Xandari for the first time right after you. Although it rained almost the entire 24 hours we were there, we still enjoyed it very much. I'd defnitely stay there again! It is a beautiful place!

I'm looking forward to more of your trip report! Thanks for sharing!

volcanogirl Aug 9th, 2010 10:23 AM

We loved Xandari too. The owner told me he had a strong desire to leave a beautiful place in the world, and I think he really succeeded. Can't wait to hear about Ylang Ylang - haven't been there yet.

cmerrell Aug 9th, 2010 11:22 AM

Sounds like your trip got off to a fantastic start. Looking forward to more...

costaricalover Aug 9th, 2010 02:03 PM

Ylang Ylang Resort
Montezuma Costa Rica

We shared our Sansa flight to Tambor with just 3 other people. One of them just happened to be the owner of Casa Chameleon in Malpais, a small luxurious romantic resort that I have read about on Trip Advisor. Everyone was in great spirits. Who wouldn't be-we were all headed to paradise! Charlie was kind enough to offer us a friends and families discount at his resort should we ever decide to visit. I think I may take him up on that offer-the reviews are fabulous.

We are picked up at Tambor by taxi and whisked off to the resort, approximatley 45 minutes away. I do notice the roads are very washed out in some places, so we proceed with caution. And finally,to my absolute delight, we are at El Sano Banano in Montezuma and I feel like I've come home!! There's just something about that town that energizes and excites me. So many alternative types, so NOT mainstream-SO DIFFERENT THAN HOME!! We are driven across the beach to my beloved Ylang Ylang (John and I got married there on the beach in February 2009)and are greeted enthusiastically by all our YY friends-it's sort of like a reunion! And we have 5 days ahead of us! Oh,to be at the beginning of a vacation with the anticipation of what's ahead!!!!

We have booked Bungalow #1 which is one of the cute little domes right on the ocean. Previously, we have stayed in Dome 4. It is lovely, but maybe not quite as private as Dome 4. I get into my bathing suit and decide to walk the property and see if anything's changed. The property is lusher than ever, colourful foliage abounds. You really feel like you are in the jungle. I walk by Coco Joe's (the 2 story cabin-the most sought after accomodation at Ylang Ylang, and it looks-VACANT!). I run at full speed to reception and negotiate switching to Coco Joe's for our 5 night stay. We lucked out and stayed for 4 out of the nights we were there.

Coco Joes has a queen bed on the main floor, and a great king size bed on the upper floor with a triangular window that overlooks the ocean. You are so close to the waves, sort of feels like you are on a ship right at sea. They also have a much larger deck area with lots of comfortable chairs. Just great for having our pre-dinner martinis and margaritas before dinner. Definitely book this cabin if you are able, it was paradise!!!!

The restaurant is set overlooking the ocean,and the service and quality of food was superb as usual. They have a great vegetarian menu including the best sushi I have ever tasted. The blackend tuna was to die for. And the pasta with jumbo shrimp was succulent. The desserts looked fabulous, but we tried to be good (boring is the word) and refrained from indulging. Some friends we met said the banana flambe? and the tiramisu was orgasmic!

To be continued....

cmazza Aug 17th, 2010 06:47 PM

Oh come on CR lover we been waiting a week!!!

costaricalover Aug 18th, 2010 01:40 PM

Thanks for the encouragement cmazza!!!!
Ylang Ylang Resort...continued

We took a couple of hikes over to Playa Grande, a beautiful calm beach just north of Ylang Ylang. It is approximately a 1/2 hour walk through interesting rock pathways and beach. We noticed all these bright orange and purple crabs along the way. Every time we got close they would skitter into their little apartments. We did not see these when we visited Ylang Ylang in February-interesting!

The one downer was, due to all the rain this year, there was quite a bit of garbage that had washed up on the beach in certain spots. The owners kept the property in front of the resort as tidy as possible. But due to the rains, there was only so much that could be done, and there were some areas on the walk into Montezuma that were slightly garbage-strewn. In the dry season this is not an issue.

We decided to check out the little village of Cabuya (7 km outside of Montezuma). We waited at the bus stop (we were told there was a bus at 12:15 by two different sources), and ends up that the bus is really 1:15. So, we decide to take a cab and luckily we meet this great guy (can't remember his name) who offers to take us. We meet up with a young German student who has been travelling in Costa Rica on her own for 2 months and is also on her way to Cabuya to stay with her host family. She looks a bit frightened when I ask her to share the cab with us, and we reassure her we are not axe murderers. So, we all travel together with this very humourous driver, and by the end of the ride we are all best friends and have exchanged email addresses. We drop her off at her new home and all is well.

I think the best ceviche I have ever had was at a little restaurant in Cabuya. There is only one restaurant in Cabuya so you can't miss it. Try the shrimp ceviche with an Imperial...unbelievable.

We visited the animal sanctuary (Rainsong) and I was very reticent after reading Hip's report from her trip there earlier in July. When we arrived we were greeted by some younger volunteers who seemed very informed and were obviously smitten with all the animals. I'm thinking that when Hip was there, the owner was on the premises which may have cast a different light on the whole experience. Don't want to say much more than that. We met a very randy 3 legged monkey going through puberty, and I had the absolute thrill of walking around the grounds with a little baby howler wrapped around my neck. Life just doesn't get any better!!

There is also a cemetery on an island in Cabuya. You can only walk out to it at low tide, and we were there at high tide. Very cool!

So, our time at Ylang Ylang consisted of one or two 1/2 day outings,and the rest of the time was reading, swimming in the beautiful pool with the waterfall,walking down the beach, and looking forward to martini and margaritas before a delicious dinner overlooking the ocean. Some of my best vacations have been the ones that have the least planned, and this was definitely one of them. We will return here one day soon...

Next - FINCA ROSA BLANCA - What a find!!!

ShellD Aug 18th, 2010 06:45 PM

I still want to get to Ylang Ylang someday! But I really am looking forward to hearing about Finca Rosa Blanca....I've checked out their website a few times and it looks amazing!

hipvirgochick Aug 18th, 2010 09:03 PM

I'm GLAD you had a great experience at Rainsong. Truly I hope that my experience has been noticed and improved upon and it sed like it has so great! I hope the poor little turtles are not still in that filthy water as it was so depressing.

costaricalover Aug 19th, 2010 02:19 PM


(Hey Hip, maybe things have changed at Rainsong since your post. They really did seem to be making an effort.)

We get to the airport in Tambor at least an hour before the flight leaves. I was a bit nervous about the 2:30 p.m.flight when I was booking it, thinking that we might be stuck in some heavy rains, but weather was cloudy and dry. Our flight is not nearly full and we depart 10 minutes early.

I am always a bit nervous about flying in the small 12 seater planes, but always grin and bear it for 2 reasons. The first is that it is faster, and if you only have a limited time in the country, it makes sense. The second reason is that there is nothing quite like flying over the Costa Rican landscape, and once you let go of your nerves, it is exhilarating! We are approaching the mainland after flying for 20 minutes over the gulf of Nicoya and suddenly the pilot makes a u turn and heads out back over the ocean. We are wondering what's up and then we realize that the 2nd pilot is a pilot in training and is taking flying lessons from the 1st pilot-Yikes!!!!!!
We do at least 2 more turns back and forth over the peninsula and I am somewhat relieved when I see we are heading back overland.

We land safely and our driver for Finca Rosa Blanca is waiting for us at the Sansa terminal. It is around a 30 minute drive through Heredia, and the closest town is Santa Barbara I believe. We start travelling up a hill and I know we are close because I've read about the wonderful views from this Inn. The driver opens the gates and we enter into a lush coffee plantation, beautifully positioned with views of the city below us. It is breathtaking!

We go to reception to check in and are warmly greeted. I had booked the El Cafetal room which is in the main building, but I thought I'd see if I could, guess....get an upgrade! I would never attempt this in high season, but it seemed that every time I asked for one on this vacation, my wish was granted!! Mr. Costaricalover thinks I am brilliant by now!!
I am told that they would be happy to upgrade us to a private villa(!!!!!!!) called El Ranchito. She tells me I am very lucky and I know I am. We decide to look at both rooms to make sure we are happy with the upgrade. El Cafetal is in the main building(very Gaudiesque architecture) which overlooks the San Jose and has a beautiful view. The room is lovely with a nice balcony and a washroom to take your breath away including a jacuzzi overlooking the view. We decide to look at our upgrade, although we would have been thrilled with El Cafetal. El Ranchito is a private unit surrounded by huge knarly trees and a semi-outdoor bathroom shower jacuzzi area that put El Cafetal to shame!! A huge comfy king bed surrounded by windows. Our private gate into a beautiful pool that was not used by anyone but us! And guess what? We are in mot-mot heaven! These beautiful blue-green birds are everywhere in the trees. You can walk right up to them and they don't get nervous and fly away. At Finca Rosa Blanca, they call them "bobo" birds, because they just don't get nervous about anything,and you can literally go right up to them and have a conversation (of sorts).

The property is absolutely beautiful. The gardens are not quite as expansive as Xandari, but the mature trees and vistas are quite breathtaking. They have created these magical trails throughout the property that remind me of an Alice in Wonderland scene,I can't quite put my finger on what it was, but it got me!

The restaurant overlooks the city and is lovely. We picked a table right at the edge of the balcony with an awesome view of city and mountains and trees. Best vodka martini of the trip was had at this restaurant, hands down. Food was outstanding-I won't go into detail but I do believe this was also the best meal we had for the entire week. I could have stayed here for at least 3 days, but like Xandari, it's a splurge and some restraint must be used, unfortunately. We came back with 7 bags of organically grown Finca
Rosa Blanca coffee. What a perfect week, would not have changed a thing! PURA PURA PURA PURA VIDA!!!!

Finca Rosa Blanca-what a find!!!

volcanogirl Aug 19th, 2010 03:41 PM

Ooh, I want the details!

costaricalover Aug 19th, 2010 04:17 PM

Details to follow vgirl.
Here's a good question for everyone. When you find a place
that you love, and keep on coming back to-how much sense
does it make to think of moving there as opposed
to renting for a long term? I find I am thinking about cr
all the time? Am I the only one with this affliction?
Shilmac. would love to hear your take?!!!

costaricalover Aug 19th, 2010 04:28 PM

Or maybe just keep on going as a tourist and keeping it that?
I'm 54 and thinking about how I want to spend the rest
of my life. Any thoughts?

volcanogirl Aug 19th, 2010 06:29 PM

Jean could give you some good input as well.

cmazza Aug 20th, 2010 01:29 PM

Thanks for the great report we are headed to montezuma in feb 2011 can not wait. I dream of being able to hae a place in CR. That is my long term goal. love it there.

costaricalover Aug 21st, 2010 02:09 PM

Cmazza,thanks! I will be in Costa Rica again in February but am renting a house for 2 weeks in Ojochal, which is south of Dominical and Uvita. Too bad, this is the first February that I'll be missing Montezuma in ages, would have been fun to hook up.
Volcanogirl, who is Jean?

volcanogirl Aug 21st, 2010 05:16 PM

JeanH - she bought a place in Belize. She and shillmac are buds.

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