For most visitors to tropical Costa Rica, renowned for beaches, wildlife, volcanoes and — above all — coffee plantations — it’s the taste of that first, early-morning cup of joe that’s likely to linger longest.
More than a resort, more than hotel, more than a lodge, this remarkable private home, on Costa Rica’s rugged Pacific Coast, promises luxury, comfort, fine cuisine, impeccable service, and hassle-free days.
If peace and quiet is in your stars, float in the pool, watch the birds twittering in the trees or lounge under an umbrella on one of three quiet patios. For the group’s type-A travelers, recreational delights range from surfing and golf to yacht outings, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, wildlife parks and helicopter-sightseeing.
When friends booked Villa Manza and invited us to be their guests, we weren’t sure what to expect. What we saw, as we turned that last corner, was a three-story contemporary stone mansion standing alone on five cliff-edge acres. Surrounded by grassy lawns, leafy trees, terraced pools and shady patios, it was a universe unto itself.
“Make yourself at home,” said our hostess, greeting us with a giant hug. “Take in the scenery. Join us in the pool; it’s heated, she said. “But first, meet our butler, Luis Morera. You’ll see. He makes the most marvelous cocktails.”
Melting away to greet other friends, she left us to admire the art and artifacts lining the corridors and living room walls. Two chefs looked up to smile “hello” from a professionally-equipped, open-air kitchen adjoining the living and dining rooms. On the lower level, a theater, two bars, and casual party room adjoined a second swimming pool and waterfall.
From there, a path led down the hill to the beach; we followed a second path through a garden to the cliff, where a barbecue circle and seats faced the west, designed for sunset viewing. Upstairs we checked into one of eight spacious bedrooms, each with a view, enormous closets, walk-in bathrooms and its a unique theme — one of them designed for families with kids.
With a staff of 12, including the managers, a husband-and-wife team, the butler and three chefs, Villa Manzu guarantees impeccable surroundings, sumptuous meals and complete privacy. Priced accordingly, it’s an ideal hideaway for celebrities, tech-company millionaires, movie moguls, industry titans and sports greats. For us, being there was dumb luck and a wonderful friends.
“Sit at the counter and talk ingredients with the chefs,” she said, reappearing. “They’re happy to share their recipes. Or ask about tonight’s recommended wine-pairings.” Tomorrow, she insisted, we must walk down to the beach and try snorkeling. “Or you can take one of the cars to the beach club, or to play golf. “It’s ten minutes away. Villa Manzu has guest privileges.”
We arrived by plane, flying direction to Costa Rica’s Liberia airport, about 40 minutes away. And waiting for us was one of Villa Manzu ‘s drivers, parked at the curb. For our next trip, he explained, plan to come by yacht and dock in the neighboring harbor. “Next time,” we promised.
Your best bet? Plan a trip with family or friends and share the cost. The Villa sleeps up to 22 adults and/or children, and sometimes a few more, depending on ages. While you’re there, the house is yours, thus everything’s included: Meals, wine, cocktails, snacks, sports equipment, fishing gear, a car, guides, and as always, warm Costa Rican hospitality.