As countries around the world race to greenify their tourism practices, Costa Rica has long been leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. Over the last few decades, Costa Rica’s track record of implementing proven far-reaching sustainability initiatives has become rock-solid: The government has converted millions of acres of agricultural plots into nature reserves with overwhelming public support—today, more than a quarter of the country falls under protected status)—in addition to propping up ambitious reforesting initiatives, and innovating on tried-and-true conservation tactics to safeguard one most biodiverse ecologies on the planet. Naturally, tourism has played an outsized role in keeping these efforts alive, with Costa Rica’s hotels operating as role models for existing in harmony with the fragile ecosystem.
Ensconced in the dense tropical forests of the Tenorio Volcano National Park, the boutique property seamlessly blends into the surrounding jungle; a luxurious base from which you can explore the extensive hiking trails and animal sanctuaries dotting this lesser-known pocket of the popular Guanacaste Province.
Rio Celeste Hideaway is one of them. Ensconced in the dense tropical forests of the Tenorio Volcano National Park, the boutique property seamlessly blends into the surrounding jungle; a luxurious base from which you can explore the extensive hiking trails and animal sanctuaries dotting this lesser-known pocket of the popular Guanacaste Province. Though there is one particular draw that makes this hotel unlike any other in the area—just peep the hotel’s name for a not-so-subtle hint.
The hallmark reason to rest your head at Rio Celeste Hideaway is for the opportunity to wake up with an invigorating dip in its namesake river, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Costa Rica. Famous for its milky cerulean waters, any visitor is able to witness the scenic marvel along the trekking paths of Tenorio Volcano National Park, where as it crashes down as the picturesque Llanos de Cortes waterfall, and at Los Teñideros, where the elusive tapirs are known to congregate. But with a handful of exclusive swimming spots along miles of its own private trails, Rio Celeste Hideaway remains to this day the sole gateway where humans can baptize themselves in the ethereal waterway.
Rio Celeste Hideaway is a certifiable haven for tranquility, composed of 26 freestanding stilted “jungalows” that seem to have sprouted directly from the rainforest floor. While the commodious casitas are constructed in the architectural traditions of Costa Rica’s northern plains, they still boast desirable modern amenities. Each is equipped with air conditioning and dehumidifiers for optimal climate control, there are huge flat-screen televisions with satellite service, and coffee makers for brewing rich Costa Rican grounds sourced from nearby. These temptations are within easy reach, but they’re surprisingly easy to resist when entertainment comes in the form of monkeys hollering outside your front porch, and a singular cold rinse in the outdoor shower lands you on the fast track to relaxation.
Founded in 2010, Rio Celeste Hideaway has managed to designate 90% of its 75 acres as an official protected habitat for Costa Rica’s largest mammal, the endangered Baird’s Tapir (you may hear locals refer to them as “danda”). The Tapir Natural Reserve has been a boon for animal researchers from the Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation, who’ve collaborated with Rio Celeste Hideaway to create a monitoring program for studying the emblematic creatures. The hotel’s sustainability efforts don’t stop there: Rio Celeste Hideaway also works to minimize its greenhouse gas emissions through its own Carbon Footprint Flight Program, and offsets carbon emissions each year by replanting native trees as part of the National Association Community Carbon Trees for the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide. Rio Celeste Hideaway only supplies biodegradable toiletries in its accommodations, while keeping its water treatment and energy usage as efficient and low-impact as possible. Even the hotel’s signature restaurant, Kantala, plucks many of its ingredients from the on-property garden, where herbs, fruit, and more are all grown without chemical intervention. Plus, nearly all of the hotel’s partners, including its carefully-selected coterie of tour operators, are based in the surrounding community. Rio Celeste Hideaway also teams up with the nearby La Paz School to educate its students about the importance of recycling and other aspects of green living.
Amid the glut of hotels billing themselves as “eco-friendly” from the ground-up, the proof is in the arroz con leche: Costa Rica’s Rio Celeste Hideaway rises high above the canopy.