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Whimsical rain forest escape, with volcano views, thermal pools, a spa and a riverside adventure playground
The road to the Springs Resort & Spa winds its way through the Costa Rican countryside, farms and towns interspersed with crashing waterfalls and swaths of rain forest. In this magical setting, the Springs Resort & Spa unfolds down the steep hillside from the red roofed main building to scene-stealing thermal pools. A short shuttle ride away, Club Rio is the resort's adventure playground beside the Arenal River, with bike paths, animal enclosures, stables, rock climbing, and tubing and kayaking on the river.
Bed and Bath
Echoing the main building's soaring cathedral ceilings, which were hewn from gleaming tropical hardwoods, all 47 guestrooms have a unique, organic look. Costa Rica–made furnishings and delicate woodwork (designed to evoke the rain forest) mix with all the modern essentials, including WiFi, flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers and more. Most rooms have private terraces with hammocks and volcano views, and all have large marble bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs and separate showers.
As the property's name suggests, the star of the show is the series of 28 dramatically sculpted thermal pools that cascade through the rain forest at temperatures ranging from 83˚F to 103˚F. For an alternative water world, adventure seekers can get their fix a mile down the hillside at Club Rio (the road is too steep to walk, so jump on the shuttle), the Springs' riverside club for tubing, kayaking, biking and climbing adventures, as well as animal encounters in the sloth, toucan, monkey and wild cat enclosures. On the dining front, options range from gourmet buffet fare at the all-day Tres Cascadas, Japanese cuisine at Ginger Sushi, informal grill options at the low-key Treetops Grill, and international and Costa Rican favorites at signature restaurant Las Ventanas (tip: ask for a table by the windows for panoramic views of the jungle canopy). For some vacation indulgence, work your way through the five eclectic bars or book a restorative massage treatment in the 14,000-square-foot spa.
In the Area
If there’s a chance of seeing the mountain, book an afternoon trip to Arenal Volcano National Park. Lava flows can’t currently be viewed from the hotel property, so make sure your tour includes sunset from a better vantage point. The Arenal area offers several options for exploring the rain forest, ranging from serene hanging bridges to view-packed cable cars, to one of several zipline canopy tours. Alternatively, enjoy fishing, birding and other water sports either on sparkling Lake Arenal (scenically situated at the base of the volcano) or at Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, which protects a pristine natural waterway. Hikers will enjoy the steep path down to La Fortuna Waterfall or rappelling Lost Canyon’s cascade.