ention the Costa Rica countryside to most North Americans, and the immediate vision is one of rain forests, jungles, monkeys leaping from tree to tree, active volcanoes, insects the size of dinner plates... and coffee.
All of that is accurate, of course, but there is another Costa Rica: One of elegance, charm, incredible golf, stunning vistas and the warm Pacific Ocean.
Guanacaste (pronounced Wannah Cahsteh) Province is the savannah of Costa Rica, less jungle than endless fields and meadows rolling down gentle slopes towards the sea. In the Costa Rican summer (December through March), the area is arid and dry. In the "Green" or rainy season, it comes alive with color from the abundance of native plants, trees, and grasses. Hidden in this changing veldt is the exquisite, all-suite Meliá Playa Conchal Resort and Golf Club, lauded as one of the finest resorts in all of Central America and renowned for its Garra de León championship golf course.
Located on the beautiful white sands of Playa Conchal, between the towns of Tamarindo and Flamingo, the resort offers a choice of 292 suites, five restaurants, four bars, a casino, Internet Café, several shops, beauty salon with spa services, an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II-designed championship golf course, and perhaps the greatest swimming pool in the Americas.
Serviced by both the Tamarindo Regional Airport 15 minutes away and the Liberia (Guanacaste International) Airport 45 minutes away,
the resort is also accessible by vehicle and is approximately a four-hour drive from the capital city of San José.
Arrival at the resort brings you up a sweeping drive to a beautifully furnished open lobby looking out miles over the tops of the villas to the Pacific. The mahogany reception desk to the right is backed by native stone; there is a lobby bar and small restaurant serving light fare to the left. It's difficult, though, to turn from the exquisite view facing you straight ahead. It's love at first sight, and as tired as you might be from the long trip, tearing yourself away to get to your villa is almost impossible.
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Unless otherwise noted, all photos ©Jána M. Jones 2001