I recently had the opportunity to visit the sublime Hacienda AltaGracia, an Auberge Resort tucked away in the San Isidro Valley of Costa Rica. After a natural river bath, a horseback ride along a quiet valley ridge, and a traditional and sustainable dining experience, I was smitten.
Hacienda AltaGracia focuses on singular, spectacular wellness, adventure and culinary experiences. For me, what made the Resort particularly special was its adventure and wellness components, whether it was the kids getting their wiggles out on the larger-than-life ropes course, or me enjoying the spa’s post-treatment room practically as much as I enjoyed the treatment itself.
One of the most memorable parts of the Hacienda AltaGracia educational trip was getting there! For the final leg of our journey from home, we took a chartered flight from San Jose Airport direct to the resort. This eliminated the need for a long, bumpy drive along winding roads, and delivered us to the resort in just a half-hour.
Upon arriving, we met our personal concierge, or “Compa,” intended to be a well-connected and discreet friend, as opposed to butler, throughout your stay. We were also presented with a beautiful sea heart necklace, made from large pods foraged in the jungles – no two are alike and I’ll treasure mine as a reminder of this gorgeous spot. It was one of many touches that elevates the Hacienda AltaGracia experience and connects you with this pristine destination.
My Favorite Experiences
While I could go on for some time about the delights of Hacienda AltaGracia, I’ll share my four most memorable experiences during my too-short visit. Each provided such a stirring sense of place that you could easily shed all worries and cares from the outside world.
A Natural River Bath
Imagine an hour soaking in the sounds of nature while you immerse yourself in the healing waters of the river. The resort’s natural river bath is tucked away in El Rio, where you’re invited to start with a riverside, guided meditation led by practitioners from The Well. Then, submerge in the bath, intended to warm your muscles and purify your body as you’re not only bathed in water, but in the sounds, vibrations and touches of the natural world.
Scenic Trail Riding
I love to explore the surrounding area when I visit a new destination and this guided trail ride that leaves directly from the resort stables was the perfect way to do so. Our group’s wrangler led us along the valley ridge to open fields, where he opened the gate to allow access to off-trail lands. We felt like vaqueros as we rode through the fields, encountering cattle and drinking in the views of the majestic mountains.
One of the core features of the Auberge Resort Collection is culinary experiences and at Hacienda AltaGracia, that commitment to land and tradition through dining was ever-present. Several eateries vie for guests’ attention; one of our favorites was Cienfuegos, which recreates some of the best elements of Costa Rican culture.
We felt part of the resort family as we partook in this lively dinner experience based on a simple land and sea menu cooked over a dried coconut husk-based fire. It’s a veritable tour of the region, allowing guests to feel a connection to the surrounding countryside as they experience sustainable culinary techniques, from pickling and fermenting, to aging and dehydrating. Every stay includes daily meals and non-alcoholic beverages.
Connect with the land even further during the weekly El Cultivo (also available as a private experience), a full-tasting menu with cocktails, all derived from the resort’s organic garden. There are medicinal plant classes and foraging expeditions, too, for those who want even more foodie focus.
A Day of Wellness
From the hydrotherapy tub to the thermal suite to the outdoor mindful movement classes, The Well is a delicious setting in which to reset, rewind and recharge. Each of the carefully curated, holistic treatments here is created as an homage to Mother Earth. Guests are offered health coaching in advance of their arrival in order to take best advantage of the spa’s offerings.
I started with a complimentary Casa de Agua experience, dedicated to purification and relations – and a perfect appetizer for spa treatments to come. A made-to-order clay mask, with fresh herbs incorporated, was created right in front of me. After application, I was invited to “dry” on a massive, heated marble slab in full view of the mountains – my treatment was at sunset (highly recommend!). When you’re done, definitely take a swim in the pool or luxuriate in the hot tub.
Following my Casa de Agua experience, I opted for The Skin Ritual, which consisted of a customized facial with lymphatic drainage, natural exfoliation and a hand-blended mask. Afterwards, I took some downtime in the post-treatment room, which was tucked away with small personal-sized saunas. The space so incredible that I could have fallen asleep there.
Read what VOGUE and Town & Country has to say about The Well.
Pro tip: Reserve your spa appointments for the afternoon, when brief rain showers are more probable.
An Experience for the Kids
One of my favorite moments was less for me, and more for the youngest travelers, who gaped at the handcrafted nets of the “Jugando,” an impressive and interactive children’s ropes course and play area. When parents want to steal away to the spa or enjoy a quiet glass of wine, kids can enjoy supervised playtime as part of the Junior Adventurers’ Club. They’ll expend energy, get creative and connect to the spirit of Latin America within a safe and captivating environment.
A Hacienda Sunset
We capped off a lovely stay at a Hacienda sunset gathering around the firepits outside Grano (another of the resort’s restaurants). The sky morphed into a watercolor painting as we sipped delicious cocktails.
A Final Word
Hacienda AltaGracia is such a valuable escape, with its serene surroundings, all-inclusive rates and fantastic array of on-property experiences. The additional excursions and activities are well-curated and more aligned with local culture than other, more touristed regions of Costa Rica.
For those seeking a sense of place and a setting where you’re welcomed as a dear friend would be, I would certainly recommend Hacienda AltaGracia. If you would like more information about my time there, or anything else regarding the resort, please reach out. I’d be more than happy to chat!
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