Sometimes you find a place that you realize is immediately extra-ordinary and this is exactly what I discovered at Hacienda Alta Gracia in the authentic and beautiful highlands of Perez Zeledon in Southern Costa Rica.
A former working ranch and dream project of a very successful agricultural family, the newly opened Alta Gracia is managed by luxury hotel group, Auberge Resorts, and has 50 casitas with breathtaking views of the sublime mountains, valleys and cloud forest of the peaceful Perez Zeledon area. The project is intensely personal and it is evident that no detail has been left out in the development and upkeep of this stunning property. The landscaping alone is impeccable, natural, and vibrant.
The Hacienda has its own landing strip for small aircraft and a must-do leisure activity for guests is touring the water falls, coast, and farms from one of the two double-engine Ultra lights which take off each morning.
We were met by at the San Jose airport with cold beers and a private plane which turns the 4 hour drive into a 30 minute breeze.
The view from every casita is breathtaking, from views of the mountains, cloud forest, valley, manicured gardens, or the town below – Purely peaceful on all accounts!
There are two restaurants that offer great food and ambiance, but room service is also encouraged in the casitas. They are also more than happy to serve guests by the pool or anywhere.
AltaGracia has an excellent equestrian program, where you can learn about and experience Costa Rica’s cowboy culture as you ride through pastures, rainforests, and beaches that make up the gorgeous property. The 50 horses are Peruvian, Andalusian, Quarter Horse, and a mixed breed called Iberian – they are noble and gentle and elegant. If you are an equestrian enthusiast, trust me in that you have likely never seen stables and barns this spotless and top notch!
A night at El Grill for a traditional Costa Rican pig roast and watching the graceful gait of each of the different horse breeds along with some lively music from a group of local artists.
The resort has two ultra lights with double engines that are very, very safe and take off from the resort run way to take you to see waterfalls, whales in the Pacific, the local town, and more.
Alta Gracia takes their food seriously, and running the kitchen is the darling Chef Chau from Aman Resorts. She works so hard and is thrilled to make you just the thing! Her partner, the pastry chef, also comes from Aman and has already trained his team very well – a little too well!
Everything is delicious. A few of the yummy snacks we enjoyed:
A snack platter with patacones and sausage, Asian fish cakes, and potato and cheese croquettes. The Peruvian anticucho was one of my favorites. The homemade tortillas made for a fabulous chicken tostada!
Casa Grande has a pool table, a wonderful bar, a wine room, and tons of games. The guys loved passing the rainy afternoons away here!
The spa at the top of the mountain is the largest in Central America and is GORGEOUS!
Hiking and mountain cycling trails are being groomed, and will be a central part of activities offered for guests staying at the ranch soon.
Local trips to a coffee plantation and into the town are offered with guides.
Much of the staff is local from Perez Zeledon. They have had to work far from home in resorts and properties around the country and are BEYOND thrilled that this type of local investment and quality of product has come to the South of Costa Rica, an area largely untouched by tourism.
The staff MAKE the property and could not be more polished and proud.
The ranch is a great end to a multi stop trip in Costa Rica and will be a wow to discerning clients who seek something different. This place is great for families, even though the original intent was only kids over 12, all ages are now welcomed. It is also great for those seeking a long weekend or an alternative to a ranch holiday in the American West. I think this would make a fabulous couples or girls trip too.
It is a 3.5 to 4 hour drive from San Jose, but the resort has small planes that can bring guests from San Jose and land on property. If you have more than eight in you group, larger aircraft can land in nearby San Isidro.
Contact Resort to Laura Madrid to insure your stay on the Hacienda or your jaunt through Costa Rica is just right!